At Carranza, we have tried to structure our firm to encourage a supportive and collaborative environment that minimizes and shares the stress and maximizes our ability to place our clients at the center of everything we do.
Our firm is organized as non-hierarchically as possible in teams, headed by a lawyer with the assistance of at least two legal assistants or law clerks. All the teams rely on research, administration, bookkeeping, filing, reception and service area support staff. Each lawyer and team enjoys the same level of responsibility and control over cases as every other. This structure also allows a productive long-term relationship to be built with the client. To ensure that newer lawyers have the benefit of our collective experience and advice, lawyers consult with each other informally on a daily basis and at our bi-weekly lawyers’ meetings structured for that purpose.
To reduce stress and improve our staff’s confidence and competence in the face of constantly changing legislation and regulations, and provide opportunities for advancement within the firm, Carranza supports continuing education for staff in a variety of ways. The firm covers the cost of educational programs in which staff enroll outside of work, such as the Law Clerk, Legal Assistant, and Immigration Consultant programs available at local community colleges.
We also provide regular in-house “lunch & learn” seminars on topics of direct relevance to our casework, including changes to accident benefits procedures, tort procedures, anti-racism training, the new threshold, time management, etc. We send staff to CLE programs offered by organizations like the Ontario Bar Association, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, and have even supported staff through law school.
In addition, we try to provide a workplace atmosphere that provides stress relief in the form of exercise, sports, and a personally supportive environment. For example, every month, the entire firm gets together for a potluck lunch, which serves both as a small fundraiser for community causes and a celebration of the month’s birthdays. In summer, staff play pick-up soccer once a week, and in addition play in the TSX recreational soccer league, where the Carranza Cougars have repeatedly taken the trophy in the face of stiff competition.
Our firm also makes a conscious attempt to be family-friendly and supportive of staff with children or dependant parents by offering flexible work hours and leave policy, a top-up of parental leave benefits, and a firm culture that permits staff to get home to their families evenings and weekends without negative repercussions. We offer all full time staff a standard extended health benefits package, additional holiday entitlement after five years service, paid sick days and bereavement leave.
advancement and hiring practices
We appreciate the loyalty of our staff, and try to promote and advance staff internally before posting positions externally. When hiring personnel, Carranza seeks to provide opportunities to dedicated, hardworking, capable people with an ability to learn new skills and information and an interest in serving people from communities that face discrimination who have been injured in accidents. We make a conscious attempt to provide opportunities to people who have demonstrated commitment to their communities and our work, and who despite their impressive qualifications are disadvantaged in the labour market because of their immigration status, lack of Canadian experience, race, disability or other factors. We actively seek staff with linguistic skills beyond English.
student placement opportunities
We provide placements for students in the Seneca and Humber college law clerk or legal assistant programs, and for high-school co-op students and LAWS students. These placements are arranged through the schools involved. Though not always possible, on several occasions, we have hired students in permanent positions upon completion of their placement.