December 12, 2019

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Lawyered up

135-year-old law firm moves into top three floors of True North Square

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/7/2018 (507 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Thompson Dorfman Sweatman (TDS) has moved into its new space on the top three floors of True North Square instantly transforming a 135-year-old firm into one of the most modern in town.

Not only does it get bragging rights being the anchor tenant in the first new office building in downtown Winnipeg in 25 years but TDS partners were determined to make the investment reflect their commitment to the community.

Keith LaBossiere, the managing partner and CEO of TDS said, "When we came we knew we wanted to do two things — we wanted to change the way we work, so we made sure we had state-of-the-art facilities and equipment and we wanted to make sure we invest in the community."

True North Square

• upon completion the development, will feature four towers, one million square feet of office, hotel, residential, retail, parking and public plaza space,

• it will eventually house offices for up to 1,500 workers, 288 hotel suites and 324 rental apartments and condominiums.

• upon completion the development, will feature four towers, one million square feet of office, hotel, residential, retail, parking and public plaza space,

• it will eventually house offices for up to 1,500 workers, 288 hotel suites and 324 rental apartments and condominiums.

• 242 Hargrave, where TDS occupies the top three floors, is the first privately-developed office tower built in downtown Winnipeg since 1990 and is 365,000 square feet.

• Over 50 per cent of 242 Hargrave is now leased and confirmed tenants include Scotiabank, MNP, and a number of retail tenants that will form a unique food hall concept.

• The apartment building at True North Square, 225 Carlton, will be ready for renters in the spring of 2019.

• Sutton Place Hotel and Residences is expected to start excavation this summer this summer to be completed in 2021.

• The plaza and surrounding streets have been designed to accommodate a host of exciting public events, including potential Winnipeg Jets Street Parties.

The community investment in the new office space starts with paintings and sculptures from Manitoba artists lavished throughout the space. Entering the light-filled reception area people see Carole Freeman’s 137 by 183 centimetre painting, 40 Below, a quintessential Manitoba image of a young child seriously bundled up, with only her happy eyes visible, skating on a frozen lake.

Although the firm spent $14 million on the move, partner Allan Fineblit said there was conscious care taken not to overspend — and not to appear to have overspent.

Downtown view from a conference room at TDS. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Downtown view from a conference room at TDS. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

"We wanted it to be state-of-the art and we wanted it to Manitoba-focused but we also didn’t want clients to walk in here and say ‘Wow. I wonder how much it’s going to cost me as a client in terms of my fees?’ " Fineblit said. "We had a strict budget when we started. We made choices all along the way."

'The space is so beautiful, the last thing we wanted to do was clutter it up with paper'- Keith LaBossiere, managing partner of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, on the move to a paper-reduced office

The firm chose to do a re-think in leaving its former Portage and Main digs where it had been for 28 years, to make the transition into the digital era. Among other things, TDS has gone almost completely paper-free. The new space, which is physically slightly smaller than its former location, needs only one wall of space to house its library that formerly occupied two floors of space.

"The space is so beautiful, the last thing we wanted to do was clutter it up with paper," LaBossiere said. "I carry an iPad Pro with all the documents I need. We are outfitting our lawyers with the technology that allows them to access paper as if they were holding the binders in their hands. We got rid of so much paper."

Also gone is the traditional opulent corner office for the senior partners. Instead, all 90 TDS lawyers will have offices that are exactly the same size. But having said that, not all of them will feature windows with dazzling views of the city from the 15th, 16th and 17th floors. However, all members of the firm, including the 125 support staff, will be able to enjoy a new in-house cafe linked by an interior staircase that designers believe will encourage more collaboration.

Views of Winnipeg from the 17th floor offices of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Views of Winnipeg from the 17th floor offices of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Manitoba art in the space includes a functional gate by the artisan blacksmiths at Cloverdale Forge, and another Freeman piece hung in the firm’s boardroom that can be walled off into three separate spaces, called Something About Winnipeg, an oil painting depicting narratives of the city’s history at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.

Jeff Hirsch, the partner who worked with curators to put the art collection together, is especially proud of a two dimensional bison, made of tin and found objects from Metis artist Candice Lipischak’s property in Otterburne.

"It sort of tells the story of what the firm is trying accomplish by supporting local artists," Hirsch said.

TDS is the first tenant in the 365,000-square-foot building. Scotiabank and the accounting firm, MNP, will start work in the coming weeks to fit out their new offices. Those three tenants will account for about 50 per cent of the leaseable space in the building.

The view from True North Square. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

The view from True North Square. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Construction continues in the second building of True North Square as seen from the 17th floor. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Construction continues in the second building of True North Square as seen from the 17th floor. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Larry Neudorf installs the TDS law firm logo in the elevator lobby on the 17th floor of their new offices. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Larry Neudorf installs the TDS law firm logo in the elevator lobby on the 17th floor of their new offices. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Jeff Hirsch from Thompson Dorfman Sweatman talks about the fine art that decorates the walls of their 17th floor offices. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Jeff Hirsch from Thompson Dorfman Sweatman talks about the fine art that decorates the walls of their 17th floor offices. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Views of Winnipeg from the 17th floor offices of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman (TDS) at True North Square Monday morning. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Views of Winnipeg from the 17th floor offices of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman (TDS) at True North Square Monday morning. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Conference room views. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Conference room views. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

A large conference room with views of downtown Winnipeg. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

A large conference room with views of downtown Winnipeg. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Construction continues at True North Square Monday morning. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Construction continues at True North Square Monday morning. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

View from the 17th floor. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

View from the 17th floor. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Views of the Tavern United patio from the 17th floor. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Views of the Tavern United patio from the 17th floor. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Martin Cash

Martin Cash
Reporter

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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Updated on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at 6:36 AM CDT: Corrects number of support staff

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