Heenan Blaikie was one of Canada’s leading law firms that boasted 1,100 employees and once had two former prime ministers on its staff—Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. When it collapsed in February 2014, lawyers across Canada and the business community were stunned. What went wrong? Why did so many lawyers run for the exit? How did it implode? What is it that holds professional partnerships together?
This is the story of the rise and fall of a great company by the ultimate insider, Norman Bacal, who served as managing partner until a year before the firm’s demise. Breakdown takes readers into the boardroom offices during the heady growth of a legal empire built from the ground up over 40 years. We see how after a change of leadership tensions erupted between the Toronto and Montreal offices, and between the hard-driving lawyers themselves. It is a story about the extraordinary fragility of the legal partnership, but it’s also a classic business story, a cautionary tale of the perils of ignoring a firm’s culture and vision.