JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Don Douglas, left, managing partner of Winnipeg law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, and Paul Roy, managing partner of Roy Johnston in Brandon. The two firms have merged as part of TDS’ strategy to expand outside of the Perimeter Highway. The Brandon office will be known as Roy Johnston/TDS.
WINNIPEG — One of Winnipeg’s biggest law firms is branching out beyond the Perimeter Highway for the second time in a year.
Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP hopes to get a piece of the action in southwestern Manitoba through its merger with Brandon-based Roy Johnston & Company LLP.
Don Douglas, managing partner of TDS, said he believes Roy Johnston’s six lawyers can provide much-desired access to the red-hot part of the province that it couldn’t get by expanding there on its own. At the same time, TDS will be able to provide expanded legal expertise that Roy Johnston doesn’t currently offer to its clients. The Brandon office will be known as Roy Johnston/TDS.
"We’re coming together to make a stronger merging of practices," Douglas said. "Our objective is to make the Brandon office bigger and stronger."
"We don’t have a lot of oil and gas expertise because we don’t have a lot of clients that need it but we want to develop it using lawyers in (the Brandon) office."
TDS currently has 77 lawyers, including 45 partners. Last January, it merged with Christianson Law Corp. in Portage la Prairie. Its three lawyers now operate under the Christianson TDS banner.
The Brandon economy has changed significantly over the past 30 years, which has forced Paul Roy, managing partner of Roy Johnston, to search out expertise that it didn't have in-house.
"When we started out we were doing simple farm deals and house deals. The institutions and businesses have become bigger and more sophisticated and they need things that we don't know how to do," Roy said.
That list includes intellectual property work, major litigation as well as environmental, labour and immigration work.
Partnering with TDS will do more than help Roy attract new clients and keep existing ones — it will also help educate the firm’s young lawyers.
"They need training and access to experts (in certain areas). They ask us for it and we don't have it. TDS has it," he said.
The deal is scheduled to close by April 1.
To connect the two offices, TDS plans to install high-end video conferencing technology.
"It’s like you're sitting across the table when you're 120 miles apart," Douglas said.
The expansion to Brandon will hopefully be far from the last for TDS. Douglas said he wants to keep building out throughout the province.
"We need access to more clients. Half of the population of the province and a lot of really successful medium-sized businesses are outside of Winnipeg. We want to look at Morden, Winkler, Steinbach and Dauphin," he said.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 7, 2014