New building marks renewed commitment for local law firm

Above: Lawyer Gord Putnam poses in front of his and partner Andrew Lawson’s new 5,300 square foot building on 100 Street.

by Stephen Dafoe

Rising above 100 Street in Morinville’s downtown core is a brand new 5,300 square foot office building for the law firm of Putnam and Lawson. The building is nearly three times the size of the firm’s former location across the road. The project broke ground Apr. 1 and Gord Putnam, Andrew Lawson and their staff open the doors Nov. 12 on a new chapter in the 28-year-old law firm’s story.

Putnam said the company’s current journey began one day when he walked out of his old office wondering where he could build a new one. “I looked across the street and saw this old house with the trees and Rene [his partner] went and asked if they were interested in selling. She [the owner] said I’ve been waiting for 10 years for someone to come and knock on my door,” Putnam recalled.

That initial knocking of opportunity lead to the erection of a modern office facility that will house the firm’s current staff, as well as provide room for the firm to continue to grow.

The building is built by Whitson Contracting, a family business that are clients of the law firm. “They have a great reputation and they’ve been absolutely marvellous,” Putnam said. “They helped us redesign the building. I originally designed a box – they got us right down to the practical stuff that I didn’t necessarily have a handle on.”

The new-look building will coincide with a new-look brand for the long-time business, an updating of the logo and slogan for the partnership that began 18 years ago when Putnam and Lawson took over from the previous owner, Tom Walter. “We are now moving into this new phase of planning for the future,” Putnam said. “We’re making a big investment in Morinville because of people like Jesse [Inkpen, one of the firm’s young lawyers], and younger lawyers coming on,” Putnam said. “Eventually there will be succession and transition, but we’re really just committing to the community with this build.”

Putnam and his partner will be keeping their Gibbons office open. The company has long been known as a regional law firm serving Sturgeon County. The law firm’s new slogan – Your Neighbour, Your Lawyer – speaks to the company’s philosophy, the new office to the need to expand the business to satisfy a growing region and clientele.

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But just as the company has grown quickly, so too has the building. Putnam said his contractors anticipated an eight-month build for the project, but were done in six, allowing lots of time for interior finishes over the past month. That look is what Putnam describes as country contemporary, a look designed to appeal to the firm’s mix of urban and rural clients. “We like to have a mix of both,” Putnam said of the interior design, adding the mantle above the fireplace comes from a farm in Pincher Creek that was owned by the grandson of the author of O Canada. It is a piece of Canadiana that continues through to the selection of art that is on the walls, decor that will include a painting of a prairie scene by Putnam’s fellow Rotarian Monty Johnson.

Beyond the cosmetic appeal, Putnam said the building is set up for functionality as well. “It’s designed for us to be able to meet clients in a meeting room that is separate from our offices, which is really important,” he said.

Although the company has a new-look building and a new-look branding, little will change in how the firm looks at the communities they serve. “We’re big on community service and that’s why our slogan [is] Your Neighbour, Your Lawyer,” Putnam said. “We totally believe in supporting the community that supports us. That’s one of our huge things and that’s why we support the festivals and the hockey teams and soccer teams, the bake sales and all that kind of stuff. Our commitment to the community is to be involved.”

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