Owner Stories: Michael Schacter, KAUFMAN LLP/s.e.n.c.r.l., Montreal, Quebec
Next up in our series, we welcome Michael Schacter to our platform. We met Michael last year after joining The Networking Club in the West Island of Montreal. Michael Schacter is an experienced litigator and business lawyer at Kaufman LLP and has over a decade of experience fighting for the rights of his clients. He regularly pleads cases before courts of all levels in the province of Quebec.
Over the past several months, it’s been great getting to know Micheal and we used this opportunity to get some insights from him and some advice for small business owners. Given that Kaufman LLP has been serving Montreal’s business community since 1934, we thought his input would be valuable. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Our interview with Michael is below. And please make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.
Interview with Michael Schacter of KAUFMAN LLP
10|20 Marketing: Hi, Michael. Appreciate you agreeing to do this with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you landed at Kaufman?
Michael Schacter: I was raised in Dollard and grew up on the baseball diamonds and hockey rinks across the West Island. My first “adult” job was as a computer technician, repairing PCs and maintaining networks for SMEs. In fact, I nearly ended up becoming a computer programmer until I realized that I preferred to fix human problems rather than computers. I graduated from the University of Ottawa’s faculty of civil law in 2006 and have been a member of the Quebec Bar since 2007.
For three years, I worked in a small firm with a general practice, where I had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of cases. While there, I had the opportunity to plead my first trial and got hooked on the thrill of litigation and fighting for my clients. In 2010, an opportunity arose for me to join Kaufman LLP, a boutique firm with specialists in several fields. For the last 10 years I have had the pleasure of working with a team consisting of some of the most talented and passionate lawyers and support staff.
10|20 Marketing: Love that backstory and that it involves baseball! So let’s dive into your time at Kaufman. How many people are at the firm? What’s the firm’s area of specialty? Essentially, why should someone call Kaufman rather than another firm?
Michael Schacter: Kaufman is a boutique firm with 10 lawyers, in addition to law students, paralegals and other support staff. We are a full-service firm, meaning we are able to address all the legal needs of SMEs that might arise. We handle everything from simple incorporations and filing of annual minutes to complex multi-party litigation and corporate mergers. People choose Kaufman because of our reputation for vigorously promoting our clients’ rights. It is a reputation that has been carefully crafted since 1934 and has resulted in several former members of our firm being appointed to the Superior Court and the Court of Quebec. As it is impossible for an individual lawyer to specialize in everything, we are fortunate enough to have a team with experience in many areas, yet we remain small enough as to be accessible to small businesses and individuals.
10|20 Marketing: Do you know these judges? Could come in handy one day! All joking aside, here at 10|20 Marketing, we’re very interested in small businesses, their successes and our challenges. Can you speak a little bit about how your firm goes to bat for small businesses? And when you say you are accessible to small businesses and individuals, are you saying that your rates are reasonable?
Michael Schacter: To be sure, we go to bat for all of our clients with vigour, whether it be a Big Six bank or an individual. However, given our “boutique” size, we can certainly relate to the specific challenges faced by small businesses and can offer up creative, practical and cost-effective solutions. Our rates are definitely reasonable, particularly considering the experience and reputation we bring to the table. Of course, hourly rates are only one factor amongst a whole slew that determine your return on investment. There are very few black-and-white situations in law and most of the issues that come across my desk have more than one possible solution. Ultimately, I believe that Kaufman’s lawyers provide the best possible value by relying on our collective experience to recommend and implement strategies that will result in the best possible outcomes for our clients.
10|20 Marketing: Do you have any advice for people out there who may be struggling with their businesses right now due to the restrictions imposed by the government to deal with the pandemic? What advice do you have for small businesses owners looking to survive?
Michael Schacter: It goes without saying that small businesses are some of the hardest hit by the effects of the forced shutdown and only those that plan ahead and adapt will make it through these unprecedented times. My biggest piece of advice right now is to carefully manage your cash flow. In addition to the various programs offered by the different levels of government and financial institutions, businesses in need should also try to negotiate with their creditors. Virtually all creditors are facing issues with their own cash flow and will look favourably upon debtors that approach them early, rather than those that remain silent, hoping nobody will notice a missed payment.
I do, however, have a word of caution for those that operate their business through a corporation. Although it is more important than ever to show your dedication to your business, given the general uncertainty faced by the economy, shareholders should avoid giving personal guarantees to creditors unless absolutely necessary, as they risk extending the failure of the business into personal ruin. Fortunately, not all will be doom and gloom, and I look forward to hearing the success stories that are bound to arise about those small business owners who were able to successfully pivot their businesses and take advantage of new opportunities.
10|20 Marketing: How are you personally handling things given that you’re working from home and having to service your clients?
Michael Schacter: Fortunately, because of my background in computers, I’ve had the ability to work remotely for the last several years and the transition has been extremely smooth for me and my clients. I am equipped for digital signatures, electronic filings with the government and even certified e-mails to prove delivery of legal proceedings. While there are certainly downsides to working remotely, my focus remains on the positive aspects, the most important being the time additional time I get to spend with my wife and two children instead of commuting.