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Integrate new employees seamlessly

Integrate new employees seamlessly

“Patience and kindness are required. The acquisition process involves big changes. “Those who were acquired did not choose this,” says Delegatos president, Pascal Pageau. (Photo courtesy)

Legal greats. The first is experienced in exercise. The second is in his first experience. Richard Laramie, CEO of DS Avocats, and Pascal Pageau, Founding Chairman of Delegatus, have agreed to share with us their perspective on the acquisition process and the lessons learned along the way.

When Richard Laramie approaches a potential partner, he's careful not to get a “400-page fitness manual” about who DS Avocats is. To form new alliances, the CEO calls for “openness” and “agility.” At least that's the position it adopted during the merger with Burstall LLP (2021) and the merger with Décarie Avocats in 2023.

“The first thing we do is talk,” he explains. We provide the platform, who we are and what we want to do. Then we invite the group of lawyers to merge with us, but not a complete merger. We want the group to join us with their expertise and take us to another level. We tell them: Help us make an impact.”

The acquisition of Calgary-based Albertin Burstall LLP is a good example of a gentle and gradual integration. The second generation company had the Burstall name for 50 years. We were sensitive to the bad reputation they had in their city and county. Therefore, we did not request a name change during the transfer process. They have recently become DS attorneys.

The same scenario with the recent merger of a group of four specialist employment law lawyers, from BCF Avocats. “The group remained independent,” says Richard Laramie. We did not “integrate” him as much as we supported him in the transition. We helped him connect with our clients who had employment law needs.”

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Give it some time

On her first ever acquisition, Pascal Pageau says she had a lot of fun.

Before embarking on this process, Chief Delegatus had read the following advice: Do not marry anyone, associate with people who have common points of synergy and who share the same values ​​and the same culture.

Therefore, initial discussions focused on the topic of values ​​from a very specific angle. “In the takeover scenario, among other things, we asked ourselves on what basis we would hire the next lawyer. And for what reason we would fire one. We put on the table what is non-negotiable for everyone.” The chemistry, we understand, then worked.

Then, between discussions in fall 2023 and the official announcement in January 2024, Delegatus' president discovered the less glamorous side of the acquisition. On the one hand, it was necessary to research legal disputes and commercial disputes; The process turned out to be not without any unpleasant surprises, as Deligatus mainly represents large and very large companies, while Novalex mainly advises SMEs and large corporations. After that, it was necessary to begin a management transition process that was very difficult.

“There are so many things to do,” says Pascal Pageau, who uses the image of a duckling in a pond. She is calm outside, leaving her legs under the water. On Novalex's end, lawyers had to update all their old files and then close them. In addition, they had to migrate data and learn new systems, including legal management software Clio. Lots of logistics, therefore, to consider.

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“In the case of the second acquisition, I think we will review the timing. Making the internal announcement in mid-December and formalizing the acquisition on January 1, in the middle of the holiday season, was a bit difficult. On the other hand, it proved to us that despite all Something, for the first merger, we were able to act quickly.

A few months later, Delegatus's boss is trying to keep in mind another piece of advice she read before the acquisition: Give time. “Patience and kindness are required. The acquisition process involves great changes. Those who acquired did not choose it. They were told that they would become members of the new government. We must give the humans enough time to understand this change and learn what the significance of it is. What is in it for him.”

To welcome the new employees, the Delegatus team organized workshops where they presented the company's model and values. Then she increased the number of happy hours and lunch meetings.