Congratulations to 2015 Large Business Nominee, Lerners LLP. The Large Business Award recognizes a company over 50 employees, that develops and applies the concept of ability first and best practices in recruitment, retention, and talent management.
The annual Ability First Coalition Champion Awards celebrate and honour businesses, companies, individuals and organizations that have hired and retained people with disabilities in London, Ontario and surrounding area.
Nominee: Lerners LLP
Representative: Margaret Bassel, Business Development Manager
Can you tell us a little about your business?
Lerners is a full service Law Firm with offices in both London and Toronto. Lerners has earned the reputation of being experienced, fair, and tenacious counsel and we are consistently ranked among the top litigation firms in Canada because of our diligence, expertise, and professionalism.
How long have you been in business?
Lerners has been in business for over 85 years. In 1929, Mayer and Sam Lerner opened their London office with the philosophy that “no matter who our clients are, each and every one deserves the best representation possible.”
How many employees do you have?
We are one of Ontario’s largest litigation firms with more than 120 lawyers (with the help of more than 200 dedicated support staff).
Did you have any prior experience working with people with disabilities?
Yes, I have had some past experience.
How did your prior experience help shape your outlook?
It is important to think outside the box. People with disabilities have learned and adapted new ways of performing everyday tasks. The end result might be the same, but the different ways these things are accomplished can be inspiring.
What were your initial feelings on hiring someone with a disability?
My initial feelings were whether we could we find the right person for this position while still maintaining its integrity? I quickly realized that this is absolutely possible. My approach has been to be honest about what is expected of the candidate, in all aspects, in order to find the best fit and this has worked very well.
Why did you decide to hire someone with a disability?
We hired someone with a disability to encourage inclusion. Our goal is to have everyone feel as if they can attain a sense of “normalcy”. For example: If they acquired an injury then they might want to try and resume as many things as they can prior to acquiring the injury and this gives them the opportunity to do so.
How did you go about finding the right person(s) for the job?
We were able to find the right person for the job through open communication. We were very honest and worked closely with Cornerstone Clubhouse with respect to both the requirements of the position and the expectations we had of the candidate.
Can you describe one of the positions filled?
This position is in our mailroom and has many different tasks, which include but are not limited to: sorting and delivering interoffice mail, sending and responding to emails, processing outing mail, etc…
How has this employee worked out for you?
Fantastic! He is a valued member of our team.
Were there any preconceptions you had about employing someone with a disability?
What are some of the most common misconceptions you hear other employers talk about when they hear you’ve hired people with disabilities?
One misconception I hear often is that it would be too much work to manage someone with a disability. However this has not been our experience here at Lerners.
How do you attempt to correct these misconceptions?
We encourage open mindedness to facilitate an individual’s willingness to learn new things.
What is your advice for other employers?
Work with a foundation or agency that is open to your needs and expectations and have a direct point of contact.
My advice for other employers is to maintain open communication with the individual and offer continual encouragement and feedback. It is a great opportunity to dispel any preconceived notions of incapabilities.
Please finish this sentence, “I hire for Ability First because…”
These individuals deserve it.
What does being nominated for the Champion Awards mean to your business?
It is an honour and a privilege to be given the opportunity to work with such inspiring people.