Case study // Bennett Jones

Firm First: 100 Years of Service and Trust

“Congratulations to us! What a tremendous team effort. We are planning to gift it to all our people. We must find a time to celebrate this work of art together!”
— Lisa Azzuolo, Chief Marketing Officer, Bennett Jones

THE OBJECTIVE: Chronicle the century-long evolution of a strong Western Canadian law firm into a national powerhouse, while celebrating the Bennett Jones of today

In 1922, Bennett Jones began as a 10-lawyer office in Calgary.

Over the next 100 years, it opened six offices in North America, and has grown to become one of Canada’s premier business law firms that clients trust with their most complex legal matters. Hitting a milestone like this is a victory worthy of a standing ovation for any institution. The cherry on top? A glorious centennial logo that would be featured throughout their anniversary campaign.

We stepped in to help amplify the applause. In late 2019, Bennett Jones hired our team of experts to plan and produce a book that would creatively and strategically showcase the company’s 100-year journey in time for its anniversary in 2022. In the publishing world, that meant, “Don’t spare the horses!”

How could we elevate the already rich story of a Western Canadian business that ultimately gained national prominence? In other words, how could we chronicle a history without producing (just) a history book? That was our first riddle. Further, in addition to looking phenomenal (one of our specialities), this story had to do more than simply chronicle the law firm’s most impactful moments in its 100-year journey — already an impressive list and challenge. It also needed to reflect the firm’s vision and serve as a strategic tool to:

  • Show appreciation, deepen engagement, and instil pride among Bennett Jones’s force of lawyers, advisers, and staff by paying tribute to their services and contributions
  • Convey with nuance the special nature of Bennett Jones, rooted from day one in “prairie pragmatism” and deep client service
  • Strengthen the sense of connection and shared history that employees of Bennett Jones feel for their colleagues across their network of offices
  • Attract the most talented people in their fields, who envision themselves as shaping the next chapter of the firm’s exciting story by becoming a part of it; and help create a more efficient and successful onboarding approach for those new recruits
  • Equip the company with a meaningful gift to share with clients and stakeholders


THE SOLUTION: Craft a history book that looks far from historical, and celebrate the past while highlighting the present-day Bennett Jones vision


By our playbook, a company history should be vibrant, never boring.

So for this coffee table book, we agreed on a visually rich, easy-to-browse reading experience with a modern, bold aesthetic centred on Bennett Jones’s brand. By using bold type and colour treatments, a creative mix of archival and contemporary photos, and strategically placed sidebar features, we were able to capture 100 years of history in a highly flippable design that looks anything but historical. As for the story, we focused on setbacks weathered as much as successes celebrated throughout the firm’s long history — and on why the firm should always come first for leadership, clients, and particularly the next generation of changemakers in the industry. That devotion to service is embedded in the book’s title and informs every page and every story.

The result is a 10″ x 11.75″ hardcover book printed in full colour to offer ample real estate for the story and its contemporary design. An elegant matte finish for the cover and a heavier stock for the pages add to the book’s gift value. As a complement to the stylish coffee table book, Firm First is also available electronically on an interactive microsite dedicated to Bennett Jones’s centenary. A complimentary digital copy is available upon request from the firm.


THE LESSON: Rigour, agility, empathy


The Bennett Jones team absolutely loved their finished book, which they’ve dubbed “a work of art.” In getting there, though, this project went through its own trials and tribulations. Even so, throughout its gestation, our approach remained the same: getting things done right and on time. That’s what we call creative rigour.

Because this was one of our early-pandemic projects, photo collection (from offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto) was a challenge. To navigate this critical phase, and in the iterative spirit of ECHO, we reshaped the initial design and image discovery process to ensure we were equipped with the best-quality assets to populate the book. In fact, we continue to adapt our systems to enrich our storytelling while empowering our clients.

Our second lesson was in agility as we were reminded, once again, that it takes many parties and moving parts to build a book. In the world of book making, it is important to expect the unexpected and establish contingency plans in the face of forces beyond our control.

And what forces there were. From printing mishaps to shipping delays, the challenges kept coming. What got us through was always, always, communication and empathy. In the end, this project was a humbling reminder to share our vulnerability with our collaborators, whether they are clients, partners, or colleagues. Here’s to more problem solving in the pursuit of a shared goal, and more success stories.


We were so proud to help celebrate Firm First at Bennett Jones’s centennial party
on December 2, 2022. This gorgeous display at the entrance was a treat for the eyes, and each guest received a copy. Most were already turning the pages on their way out.