Five months ago, Alistair Vigier launched his all-virtual law firm, with a staff of eight who telecommute from a variety of locations across the country.
While Vigier is based in Victoria, ClearWay Law’s lawyers are distributed around the Greater Toronto Area, and its admin and other staff are spread around Victoria, Vancouver and Regina.
All work from home, meeting their family law clients in their homes or at coffee shops when needed.
At a previous firm where Vigier was an investor, the company spent around $20,000 per month for office space, keeping with the industry’s tradition of projecting an image of success through big boardrooms and beautiful views.
His new firm spends around $200 a month on occasional access to meeting rooms in co-working spaces — a savings Vigier says is passed on to the client through lower fees. And staffers value the flexibility that comes with being able to work from home, he says.
“A lot of our lawyers are younger, so they really want that work-life balance. We had younger lawyers at the previous firm and they were always pushing to work from home anyway.”
Given the cost of living in major centres, if ClearWay had an office in downtown Vancouver or Toronto, support staff making $4,000 to $5,000 a month wouldn’t be able to afford to work there without punishing commutes from outer suburbs, he says.
Remote workers are looking better than ever to companies contending with expensive office space and a shortage of skilled workers who may not be able to afford housing in major urban centres.
Emboldened and in demand, workers in Canada’s low-unemployment provinces are increasingly game to work for companies that will allow them to telecommute, and industries — including those not typically known to embrace remote workers — are adapting to meet that demand.