McMillan restructures executive leadership group, creates chief client officer role

Executive partner Tim Murphy set to take on dual managing partner and CEO roles

Tim Murphy

Canadian law firm McMillan has kicked off the new year with a revamp of its leadership team and the creation of a chief client officer role, as it renews its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion-related (DEI) initiatives at the executive level. 

The appointments will see a number of longtime firm partners ascend to executive leadership roles, including 15-year veteran Tim Murphy, who has been named chief executive officer and managing partner after serving as the firm’s executive partner since 2016. 

Murphy will be joined on the executive leadership team by new chief operating officer John Clifford; board of partners chair Paul Davis; executive director and chief financial officer Claire Duckworth; risk and finance committee chair Brett Stewart; strategic planning committee chair Tushara Weerasooriya and the firm’s first chief client officer Stephen Wortley. 

The firm said the creation of the chief client officer role was a result of its client-first approach to the delivery of legal services, with Wortley expected to help drive internal reforms, oversee feedback programmes and help focus McMillan’s investment around client needs. 

All of the appointees are based in the firm’s Toronto headquarters except Wortley, who leads McMillan’s office in Hong Kong and co-chairs its China Practice. The firm, well-known for its work with US companies in Canada, currently has five bases in Canada in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver and one outpost in Hong Kong. 

“The pandemic, climate change and technology have all radically changed not only our society, but how we do business,” Murphy said, adding that an increasingly complex business environment  means client require “more from their law firm than just a legal brief”. 

Clients "deserve a partner that provides solutions to challenges facing their business and their industry and identifies opportunities to help them grow”, he said. 

Murphy, who left his role as former prime minister Paul Martin’s chief of staff to restart his law career in 2006, specialises in P3 and infrastructure law. In addition to his executive leadership experience, Murphy also serves as managing director of McMillan Vantage Policy Group, McMillan's affiliated public policy firm. 

The new ‘strategic plan’ put in place by the firm intends to cut to the heart of DEI issues by deploying a number of strategies across four metrics: awareness, representation, policies and action. 

One such strategy is the firm’s recent independent, confidential survey of its lawyers around the challenges that women face in the legal field that was designed to identify barriers to women’s success and highlight solutions. 

Weerasooriya said that implementing such strategies across all levels at McMillan were “critical to the firm’s growth and success”. 

“It isn’t just about time business law firms looked more like the communities we serve, it’s critical to providing our clients with excellent service,” she said. 

In other Canadian legal news, Toronto-based academic and veteran independent arbitrator Todd Weiler was named co-chair of the ICC’s new disability task force alongside London lawyer Simon Maynard last December, in a move the ICC claimed to be the first of its kind by an arbitral institution to make dispute resolution more inclusive for people with disabilities. 

And in October, an open letter published by Lawyers for Climate Justice and signed by more than 100 Canadian lawyers urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the incoming minister of justice and attorney general to protect Canadian citizens from the threat climate change poses to their fundamental rights by reviewing "all federal statutes and forthcoming bills through a climate justice lens and...ensure that vulnerable populations are meaningfully protected".


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