At Carranza, we have tried to structure our firm to encourage a supportive and collaborative environment that minimizes and shares the burden of work, while maximizing 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 our clients. 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 the summer, staff play pick-up soccer once a week and in addition, play in recreational soccer leagues, in which 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 dependent 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 on evenings and weekends without negative repercussions. We offer all full time staff a standard extended health benefits package, additional vacation entitlement after five years of service, paid sick days and bereavement leave.
Advancement and hiring practices
We appreciate and value the loyalty of our staff, and try to promote their internal advancement before posting positions externally. As such, many of our staff are longstanding members of the Carranza team. When hiring personnel, Carranza seeks to provide opportunities to dedicated, hardworking, capable individuals with an ability to learn new skills and information and an interest in serving people from communities who face discrimination and 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 due to their lack of Canadian experience, race, disability or other factors. We actively seek staff with linguistic skills beyond English to better attend to the needs of this multicultural community.
Student placement opportunities
We provide placements for students in the Seneca and Humber College law clerk or legal assistant programs, for high-school co-op students and LAWS students. These placements are arranged through the schools involved, and though not always possible, we have hired students in permanent positions upon completion of their placement on several occasions.