Estates & Wills & Trusts

Hull on the importance of synergy and mentoring

Toronto trusts and estates lawyer Ian Hull says working with his late father Rodney Hull taught him the importance of watching and learning.

Hull, who co-founded Hull & Hull LLP with his father in 1998, says he learned a great deal about mentoring by working with his father.

"He gave me lots of time to develop my skills and he was very careful to have me watch him and learn," says Hull. "And more importantly, he was not hesitant to start passing the work off to me."

While the firm started with father and son, it has now grown to include 13 lawyers and three counsel. So how does a growing firm retain that family feel?

"We work hard at keeping that feeling because we believe in it," Hull tells

"We've starting using 'synergy rooms' over the past couple of years, which are large 20x30-foot rooms where we will have five lawyers working on their files and interacting. It's a different work environment and keeps the lines of communication open."

He explains that both he and managing partner Suzana Popovic-Montagll work in the synergy room, and there are three desks that revolve each day. This gives associates and articling students a chance to work with the partners and interact with each other.

"It's pretty neat and it's a really good way to a) keep the communication tight between you and your associates and b) it's indirect mentoring," Hull says.

Another proponent of mentoring is the Hon. R. Roy McMurtryferred to as "The Chief" by his colleagues – who joined the firm as counsel in September.

"In a lot of ways it's really great to have him at the firm because he brings the same sort of presence that my dad brought when he was around," says Hull.

"It's really nice to have that kind of sage and senior input into everything. On the file side he's been fantastic because, once we're getting ready for trial, we will have an associate run through the whole case with The Chief and we get him to tell us where he thinks we should be focusing," says Hull. "As opposed to a purely estate litigation perspective, we get perspective from a former sitting judge."

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