Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 25, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Duncan Craig LLP was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2021):
- Duncan Craig LLP supports a variety of charitable and community organizations throughout the year and provides employees with an individual charity budget which they can donate to an organization of their choosing -- additionally, employees may nominate charities and non-profits to receive firm-sponsored support through the Laurel Awards program and the Community Fund Award
- As part of the firm's health benefits plan, employees receive a generous health spending account of up to $800 per year, allowing them to top up coverage according to their personal needs
- Duncan Craig LLP provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new parents and offers a variety of flexible work options to help as they adapt to their new roles, including a phased-in return to work
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 5, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Duncan Craig LLP was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2021):
- Duncan Craig LLP helps employees save for life after work with generous matching RSP contributions -- and helps employees prepare through retirement planning assistance services
- Duncan Craig LLP considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlement for new employees, with lawyers starting with four weeks of paid vacation and all other personnel moving to four weeks after four years of employment
Duncan Craig stays close to its historic roots
In the 127 years that it has been in business, the law firm Duncan Craig LLP has scarcely budged from the intersection of Jasper Avenue and 100 Street in the heart of downtown Edmonton. “To the best of our knowledge, we’ve been within a block of this location for our entire existence,” says chief operating officer Greg Miskie.
Both the city and the firm have come a long way since 1894 when William Short and his partner Charles Cross set up shop on the second floor of a modest wooden building on Jasper Avenue. Today, the firm occupies the top two-and-a-half floors of 28-storey Scotia Place and the walls are adorned with reminders of the firm’s humble origins.
“Our archives have pictures of our founding partners and pictures of the time when horse-drawn carriages were navigating the city’s muddy streets,” says Miskie.
And the firm hasn’t strayed far from its historic roots in the Alberta capital. “We support owner-operated businesses and many of the institutions that support them,” he says.
That became considerably more difficult amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Face-to-face meetings with clients, which are an essential part of the business, had to be drastically curtailed and scheduled well in advance. Likewise, in-person meetings among partners, associates and staff, which were important for the firm’s culture of collegiality, have been reduced in favor of virtual meetings.
Other long-established ways of working also had to change. The firm’s lawyers have long been equipped with laptops and the ability to work remotely through a virtual private network. Such was not the case for the support staff.
“In a very short period of time, our director of IT enabled the creation of a secure virtual private network that all staff could access remotely,” says Miskie. “We did our testing and had it up and running within four days and have continued to build remote access tools since then.”
Erica Banick had her own uniquely steep learning curve. She joined the firm last fall as its director of people after a lengthy career in Edmonton’s legal community. “My role is to interact with and support people at all levels, not just staff,” she says. “It includes our associates, our partners and our senior administrators.”
She had to adjust to a new workplace and meet a whole new cohort of colleagues with almost everyone working from home. “The transition has been so much easier than I expected,” says Banick. “I’ve worked in the city’s legal community for a long time. Duncan Craig has an excellent reputation. People want to work here.”
She has joined the firm’s COVID-19 task force, which was established in the spring of 2020 and by early 2021 had held over 100 meetings. Administrators meet twice weekly while the management team gathers once a week. Apart from dealing with fresh challenges, the task force has kept associates and staff well informed.
Early in the pandemic, the firm’s managing partner, Darren Bieganek, hosted a virtual meeting for the entire law firm. He walked everyone through the challenges the firm was facing and the adjustments it would make to meet them.
This was no easy conversation, says Miskie, but the meeting, as well as weekly communiques, “established that transparency and mutual respect would be important to sustaining our relationships during the pandemic.”
Reflecting on those challenges, Bieganek says: “Our priority from the start has been to maintain the health and safety of our people, our families and, by extension, our community while supporting our clients. We are very proud of the way we came together as a firm to meet these challenges.”