Heenan Blaikie, one of Canada’s largest law firms, unexpectedly shut its doors in February 2014. There were rumors in the months before that the firm was in trouble, but no one expected the partnership to vote for dissolution. The firm hit a rough patch in early late 2012 and early 2013, but so had other Canadian firms, and business had since recovered. There were no big bank lines or liabilities, no accounting shenanigans or ethics violations. Moreover, Heenan Blaikie was known as a kinder, gentler law firm, a place that held fast to its foundational values: trust, sharing and friendship. Yet in the year before dissolution partners began leaving in droves, complaining of internal divisions, acrimonious leadership struggles, and absent strategic vision. The case allows readers to explore how and why things turned south so quickly and asks whether something could have been done differently to avoid dissolution.
The case allows readers to explore the nature of leadership in professional service firms and learn how to manage crisis situations.
Leadership, Governance, Change Management, Alignment, Firm Culture
Event Year Begin: 2012
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