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Ottawa’s Grade A launches offshoot startups

Local law firm Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall aids growing IT firm with IP strategy, employment contracts

Ted Carty & Aaron Rubinoff
Ted Carty & Aaron Rubinoff

With client confidentiality a core tenet at law firms, the term “outsourcing” can understandably leave some in the legal profession uneasy.

While being highly sensitive to concerns around data security, the Ottawa law firm of Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. also knew that outsourcing its IT department would help it serve clients more  efficiently and ensure its technical infrastructure remained current and secure.

The law firm understood the potential of outsourced IT better than many companies, given it had a front-row seat to the rising success of one of Ottawa’s leaders in the field: Grade A.

“I needed to have that trust, because we are a legacy law firm,” says Aaron Rubinoff, partner and co-chair at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l.

“For us to go down this path which was a little bit different, I had to have that trust in who we were going to work with.”

For the past year, Perley-Robertson has helped facilitate Grade A’s growth. It’s been a particularly dynamic 12 months for the IT services provider, which has founded two offshoot companies: Grade A Digital and  Grade A Labs.

Grade A Digital is a social media management agency, while Grade A Labs is a custom software development firm.

Though they both operate under the Grade A name and out of the Grade A offices, the two fledgling companies have their own unique sets of challenges and priorities.  Perley-Robertson has been on hand for the founding of both.

Despite being born out of the well-established Grade A family, Grade A Labs is nevertheless in the startup stage of its business. As a result, fundraising is a key focus. Perley-Robertson has helped the software development firm create a high-level strategy around proactive fundraising. The law firm also helped Grade A Labs come up with an IP strategy as a means to safeguard the firm’s designs.

For Grade A Digital and its parent company, Perley-Robertson conducted a full review of their HR documentation. This enabled the firm’s employment law group to identify several areas of opportunity and – as Ted Carty, Grade A’s vice-president of business development, puts it – “plug a few holes” in the firm’s employment documents.

To empower Grade A’s administrative and finance teams to hire with confidence, Perley-Robertson also coached them on ways to limit liability with new staff without making the onboarding process cumbersome and slow.

Legal modernization

But just as Perley-Robertson was helping Grade A’s offshoots navigate the twists and turns in the life of a startup, the IT support was helping the nearly 50-year-old law firm modernize and prepare for the next stage of its own growth.

“The technology needed to run a law firm now is very sophisticated,” says Rubinoff.

Typically, when an employee needs to call their IT support, it’s because something has gone wrong. Anyone who’s been there knows it can be a frustrating experience, especially in a high-stakes environment like
a law firm.

Grade A hires not only the most technologically-capable staff, but also those who appreciate the grievances caused by technological hiccups.

“People who are skilled in service desk are not just skilled in technology, they’re also skilled in supporting people,” says Carty. “They have to be a certain type of person.”

Grade A clients such as Perley-Robertson gain access to a team of 125 highly skilled IT staff, including technicians who are constantly monitoring their clients’ networks in order to mitigate any potential crises and can respond quickly in the unlikely event that data loss should occur.

The firm has a high-security data centre in its Ottawa facility.

These resources give Perley-Robertson the ability to grow quickly, without the need to make cumbersome investments in its in-house IT infrastructure, as it adds new local, national and international clients to its roster.

“Now, if we scale up, we don’t have to do anything. The service we get from Grade A scales up with us,” says Rubinoff.

Learn more about how Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. can help grow your business at