One of Canada's most influential lawyers shares his non-traditional views about work
How do you introduce change to a profession that has been set in its ways for centuries? The answer from Quinn Martin Ross, chief executive of The Ross Firm PC, comes in the form of a cultural shift in his own workplace, making him something of a rebel amidst conservative holdouts in the legal space. His achievements have placed Ross in the Changemakers category of Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers for 2022.
In recent years, Ross has sought to address his concerns about a culture that “[treats] young associates as grist for the mill” and the “adversarial nature” entrenched in litigation practice, he says in this interview with Canadian Lawyer TV. Promoting flexibility and putting people in roles that are closer to their passions have been priorities at the Ross Firm.
“We’ve attempted to move the entire structure from a culture of scarcity, culture of limitations and competition to a culture of abundance, a culture where each person is intrinsically motivated to bring as much of themselves as possible because that vulnerability and gift is protected and fostered and treated with compassion,” he says.
This approach has resulted in better health and higher levels of engagement among the staff, as well as the ability to “focus on what excites them intellectually”. It also reflects how the individual is valued instead of being treated as a “commodity to a bottom line” – and it has led to exceptional work performance.
Another important change at the Ross Firm is its transition to a four-day workweek. This policy gives the lawyers an extra day to recharge or attend to personal matters.
“We do not compress the number of hours in a week. People work for eight-hour days. They’re paid for five. The expectations are that day they’re not working is as sacrosanct as a weekend day,” he says.
“If you run the old model, then basically what you say is for 10 hours a day, we want you to come in here and grind it out … If we don’t treat [people] as a whole being and we don’t take care of them, we can’t rightly expect everyone to perform at their best, to be happy, to want to stay where they are.”
For Ross, being a Changemaker is about finding “ways to make things work better, more easily and more logically” in areas where there is resistance to new perspectives. He looks forward to more opportunities to demystify the legal profession and make lawyers more accessible to those who need their services.
“The work we’re doing in our firm is really breaking down our processes within matters, within client files and understanding – by using data acquired over dozens of years – how each of these things generally shake out so that we can provide those people who are relying on us with a little bit more certainty, certainty of time, certainty of economy, certainty of outcome,” he says.
In the near future, the Ross Firm’s work will centre on managing projects and allocating resources, as well as ensuring transparency in the organization.