After years of debating, discussing and deliberating the possibility of offering training programs for clients and prospective clients, McInnes Cooper has launched MC Legal Lab.
The initiative is intended to provide interactive training workshops that deliver practical, hands-on skills on top legal issues affecting organizations. As well, notes Ian Pickard, a partner in the firm’s Halifax office, the program is “meant to be a commoditized training tool.”
The off-the-shelf workshops run for 90 minutes and cost $1,250 — and that approach makes MC Legal Lab stand apart from its competitors, says Pickard. “Many law firms would deliver training for their clients. What’s different about this is we have created a fixed price point. There is no haggling.”
While programs can be extended and enhanced, the expectation is that most companies will opt for the ready-to-go workshop. Initially, at least, the topics are focused on labour and employment issues covering such topics as managing cannabis after legalization, conducting a workplace harassment investigation and managing properly in a unionized environment.
Launching MC Legal Lab’s Labour & Employment Essentials now is timely for McInnes Cooper for two reasons. First, a major deterrent to launching a training program is having to create the content. The Atlantic Canada firm, however, developed a series of half-day sessions as part of a major client project. “Rather than have these gather dust, we decided to repurpose them,” says Pickard. “We wanted to see if there was a market.”
In addition, McInnes Cooper’s business plan for 2019-2020 calls on lawyers to spend more time interacting directly with clients in their own backyard and not the firm’s boardroom. “The goal is to go and meet with your client at their premises,” says Pickard.
The new venture, he adds, also helps lawyers to connect with new companies and organizations. “We need to be more creative in finding ways of putting ourselves in the room with potential clients. This provides a definite method of doing that. It’s another opportunity to develop our business.”
Surveys conducted by the firm, especially over the past 18 months, have indicated that what clients value as much as anything is the relationship they have with McInnes Cooper. “We’re putting much more of a laser focus on that,” says Pickard.
While no participation targets have been set, the workshops are anticipated to be a success with the target market — medium-sized businesses with 50 to 100 employees. “Our belief is from talking with our clients that this would be very much of interest,” says Pickard. There is a foundation for that belief. The firm’s annual client conference draws anywhere from 200 to 300 clients.