Cassels Brock's Toronto offices breaks the mould of traditional legal firm models to create a new flagship workplace that leads the way in promoting a more open culture, creating an environment which services client needs and encourages learning and the mentoring of fresh talent.
A new destination
Cassels have a long legacy in Toronto, and occupy a prominent building in the heart of the city, Scotia Plaza, for which they were one of the first anchor tenants. Given the prominence of their building in downtown Toronto, Cassels wanted to create a welcoming beacon for their staff and clients alike, while reaffirming the firm's presence as a stakeholder in the city. The new workplace was also intended to become a tool of business, to help attract and retain talent for the law firm in a competitive marketplace, while also creating flexibility and offering choice to their staff, inspiring an open and responsive culture of mentorship and learning, and representing a clear break away from traditional law firm workplace tenets.
A space tailored to Cassels
AFK's work began with the initiation of a 'discovery week' session - where all of the senior partners and key stakeholders were interviewed, which would go into a workplace strategy to uncover what new ways of working would be adopted. The firm wanted to move away from the traditional law firm arrangement of solely private offices - to a more open and learning-focused culture with new areas to encourage collaboration and interaction. The new reception floor and enhanced client facilities, along with consolidated amenities all work together to break down barriers and promote internal connectivity between the firm's senior partners and the paralegals and juniors, so that the latter can benefit from access to their experience and knowledge.
Texture and detail
The materials and finishes were carefully selected for their ability to play with contrasts, texture and pattern, to define the look and feel of the workplace. The approach was to select materials which appear smart and formal on the outside - such as polished oak, stone and marble, and pitting these against materials which exhibit 'pops' of personality, such as bright colours or vibrant patterns through textiles, to express a sense of professionalism, but also personality, playfulness and approachability - which is what defines Cassels as a firm.
Breaking the mould
Cassels' new workplace was intended to be a clear break away from traditional law firm models. Private offices are a staple of most law firms, and while these would be included in the new worksettings, they would be complemented by the creation of more dedicated spaces for learning and interaction, where senior partners would be encouraged to mentor the more junior trainees and paralegals, giving them access to the full benefit of their experience. The creation of more spaces to build connections between staff was designed to help create a fresh and open culture, to attract and retain the brightest and best talent and to ensure they could also progress throughout the firm.
Cassels also have an extensive art collection, so Cassels' new workplace was designed with the ambition of stoking a complementary engagement between the art, and the spaces around it. Little niches for plinths, and interesting pockets of space were introduced throughout the floor plan to create a sense of the offices as a gallery space, with places to display and enjoy the art, and also quiet places to reflect and to gather thoughts.
Employer of choice
Cassels workplace has been transformative, immediately after the works were completed, a metric of success is on the annual round of interviews with all of the graduates - Cassels got 100% strike rate on all of their preferred applicants, quickly becoming the employer of choice in a very competitive market.