Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Partners form boutique law firm

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JOHN Poyser and his three partners at Tradition Law LLP Estates and Trusts hope forming a boutique law firm in Winnipeg specializing only in estates and trusts is a sign of the times.

Baby boomers are getting older and many of them have amassed a bit of wealth that will need to be managed on behalf of their heirs.

Forming a new boutique firm -- the partners are about one-half of the old Inskter Christie Hughes firm -- is a way to focus resources on only one area of practice. (Five others from Inkster Christie Hughes have formed another firm called St. Mary's Law, doing a traditional general practice.)

"There are lots of boomers out there with lots of money," said Poyser. "If you get to a high enough level of wealth, and if you look closely at estate administration and trust planning, there are lots of unique, wonderful things we can do for clients."

For some, a $450 will just won't do the trick.

Poyser (who writes a monthly column for the Free Press on estate planning) said in addition to a concentration of expertise, there are other advantages to having a dedicated practice.

For instance, he said, a boutique firm such as Tradition Law LLP can hire a paralegal and pay for that person to be trained to do estate administration and all the partners would be motivated to bring that kind of business in. But the partners at another firm with many more partners, some of whom who have no interest in that practice, might balk at such an investment.

That won't happen at Tradition Law LLP, where Poyser and his partners, Cynthia Hiebert-Simkin, John Delaney and Michelle Laham Szutiak, will concentrate on the same kind of practice. The new firm already has an intern and a total of about 10 people, including support staff.

Allan Fineblit, CEO of the Law Society of Manitoba, said there can be very good business reasons for setting up a boutique firm.

One is that other firms can refer specialized work to that firm without fear of the boutique stealing those clients for other legal services they may need.

"You're much happier to refer to a boutique that does only one thing, because you can be certain they won't take a client away," said Fineblit. "Those firms don't have to worry about clients being so impressed with the work Poyser does because Poyser does not do the other work."

And that is exactly the business plan for the firm.

The hope is all the law firms in the city will be able to refer clients to Tradition Law.

As well, Poyser said he and his partners are all registered to practice in other provinces and he believes there will be plenty of demand for the firm's services.

"We are going to grow, absolutely, in no time flat," he said. "Without exaggeration, we are full to the gunwales with work coming in. I've already interviewed a paralegal and we are planning to add in one or two junior lawyers over the next few months."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2013 B6


Updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 10:49 AM CST: Partner Michelle Laham Szutiak is pictured and Cynthia Hiebert-Simkin is missing. Incorrect information appeared earlier.

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