Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Portage, Winnipeg law firms join forces

  • Print

BARNEY Christianson hadn't had much luck convincing young lawyers to move to Portage la Prairie, so he turned his attention to an entire firm instead.

The managing partner of Christianson Law Corp. found a willing merger partner with Don Douglas, his former law school classmate at the University of Manitoba and counterpart at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman.

Christianson was increasingly facing the prospect of turning away business, because he and the other two lawyers in his firm were up to their eyeballs in work and their increasingly sophisticated clients were demanding services that were outside of their areas of expertise.

"Occasionally, you have to admit you're not Superman and can't get to something so you say 'no' instead of disappointing someone," he said.

"The law is constantly getting more complex and time-consuming. What might have taken us five lawyer hours 15 years ago might easily take us 10 hours or more now."

Christianson also has one-day-a-week offices in MacGregor and Gladstone that are covered off by his team.

The never-ending challenge for rural firms in Manitoba is convincing big-city lawyers to move outside the Perimeter Highway. When Christianson graduated from law school in the early 1970s, 15 per cent of the province's lawyers worked outside of Winnipeg. Today, that figure has dropped to 12 per cent.

Christianson said many of his clients have been with the firm for 30 years and while they might have started out as a farm employee, now they own farming operations of their own. Along the way, their legal needs have morphed from a simple will to a family trust, holding corporations and a share structure that will allow them to pass it on to their children who may or may not want to continue in the family business.

"Instead of just doing a land transfer, we're doing transactions involving millions of dollars of land and equipment," he said.

Having access to the bench strength of TDS will enable his office, now called Christianson TDS, to provide the necessary services to his clients. (The Winnipeg office will continue under its original name.)

Douglas said he had been thinking for a couple of years TDS didn't have much of a presence in communities such as Steinbach, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Thompson.

With a number of rural lawyers nearing retirement, Douglas thought he could offer them an exit strategy that would ensure their clients continue to receive good service.

"We thought (a merger) was the way to do it. Do we want to go into the community with an ally or as (Christianson's) competitor? It seems the latter is a high-risk endeavour. You've got to rent space and dedicate resources to it, but you don't know how long it will take to build a practice that makes sense from an economic perspective," he said.

Douglas said he's hoping to continue expanding into other parts of rural Manitoba.

"We'll be pursuing discussions with other lawyers in other communities immediately," he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2013 B4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


NDP Leadership Math with Dan Lett

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Will you be boiling your water until the city gives the all-clear?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google