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Breakdown : An Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of Heenan Blaikie (Hardcover) (Norman Bacal)
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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?
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 the seeds of trouble planted—when Jacques Bouchard was hired, for instance, and engaged in dubious dealings between Moscow and Africa with controversial lobbyist and political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe. We see how 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, and the danger of hiring as CEOs a couple of lawyers with not even an hour of management experience.