Lawyer Bacal leverages life lessons in leadership role


By Rob Driscoll
Business Edge Media


If you and your business could use high-level guidance as you navigate stormy seas, you may want to seize the three Cs.


Entrepreneur, best-selling author and keynote speaker Norman Bacal came up with the three Cs to help put businesses on a clear path toward success.


CULTURE should be a central part of an organization’s strategy,” Bacal says. “Establishing a healthy corporate culture provides the foundation from which the pillars of success will rise.”


COMMUNICATION is another element that is critical to success. Your corporate story and vision should be communicated clearly to your team. Colleagues should also be steadily informed of developments and constantly reminded of the vision as the story unfolds.              


CONSISTENCY is also crucial, particularly in the day-to-day actions of a company’s leaders. Behaviour of the leadership team must mirror the corporate culture and stated values.”


Entrepreneur, best-selling author and keynote speaker Norman Bacal
Entrepreneur, best-selling author and keynote speaker Norman Bacal

Bacal’s unique background has prepared him well to advise on effective leadership. He has experienced remarkable success

– as managing partner of Heenan Blaikie, Bacal guided the company to massive growth as it rose to become one of Canada’s premier national law firms.


He has also been exposed to failure – in February 2014, one year after Bacal relinquished his leadership position with Heenan Blaikie, the firm boasting 1,100 employees, including two former prime ministers, experienced a stunning collapse.


“I have always faced adversity head-on,” says Bacal, who chronicled the Heenan Blaikie debacle in his best-selling book Breakdown. “Managing huge growth with offices on multiple continents came with its own challenges.


“When the law firm that I had worked so hard to build imploded a year after I stepped down as managing partner, there were a lot of learning opportunities, to say the least.


“I have learned that organization building is about carefully inserting building blocks step by step, with patience and determination. Leadership is best practised from behind the front lines.”


Bacal’s legal career also included advising every major Canadian film and television studio along with large international players such as MGM, Sony, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate.


International tax planning with the largest law firm on the planet (Dentons) and advising Smart & Biggar’s leadership on IP strategy in recent years round out a resumé that gives Bacal’s clients and speaking audiences unique insights on effective leadership and managing conflict and turmoil.


“I have been fortunate to have navigated some remarkably difficult challenges,” he says. “It is a privilege to be in a position to help other leaders benefit from those experiences.”


Bacal took on another major challenge recently, choosing to embark on a sideline career of fiction writing.


“After four years, working from a basic story idea and literally hundreds of revisions, I am about to publish my first novel; a murder-mystery called Odell’s Fall,” he explains. “It is a modernization of Shakespeare’s Othello.


“It was back to school for me, learning all kinds of new skills, obsessively and relentlessly learning how to write fiction. It has been painstakingly difficult but also a source of great joy to complete this book.”


Odell’s Fall will be released October 2. Four critical reviews can be seen at


You can reach Norm at, phone 416 432 4493 or by connecting on Linkedin.