Inside the headquarters of Henein Hutchison

Marie Henein
A peek inside the gleaming white offices of Henein Hutchison LLP, a stark modernist space that looks like no other firm in the city

By Braden Alexander

On Wednesday December 2nd, 2015

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Walking into the newly renovated office space — spread over two floors of a refurbished three-storey building in the King East Design District — a stunning, stark white entryway confirms what you probably already suspected of the office of Canada’s most famous criminal lawyers: Henein Hutchison LLP is not your average law firm.

Marie Henein and Scott Hutchison are something of a dream team. Both revered in the courtroom, in office life they have their spheres of influence: Henein handles the design, Hutchison the technology. “You’ll notice,” says Henein, with visible respect for her fellow partner, “there are no cords anywhere.”

Marie Henein and Scott Hutchison are something of a dream team. Both revered in the courtroom, in office life they have their spheres of influence: Henein handles the design, Hutchison the technology. “You’ll notice,” says Henein, with visible respect for her fellow partner, “there are no cords anywhere.”

“Henein Hutchison is the law firm that makes me happy,” says founding partner Marie Henein, a self-professed modernist who worked closely with Toronto-based architect Ivan Saleff to create her dream workspace. “It’s reflective of who we are. It’s a little non-traditional. Or maybe a lot non-traditional.” To Saleff, this made Henein Hutchison a dream client. “Marie has no fear,” he says. “She’s well travelled and versed in art. Working with her was demanding, but a lot of fun.”

The office is a sea of white, broken by pops of bright, unexpected colour — over-saturated oriental rugs in orange and turquoise, neon yellow light fixtures, nuclear-green chairs — and a few irreverent statement art pieces. (The most unforgettable: a wall of exposed brick covered in graffiti, the one bit of chaos in an otherwise tightly controlled design atmosphere.)

Henein declares herself a strict minimalist, and wanted her firm to reflect her “obsessive” love of negative space. “It’s an external extension of thinking clearly. I don’t like clutter. I don’t like stuff.” All the lawyers have large, airy offices with colour-coordinated rugs and chairs, plus seamless glass desks that leave nowhere for junk to hide. Henein calls herself “OCD” about how tidy she expects associates to keep their desks — and recognizes the irony, considering how she hated when her old law partner, the late Eddie Greenspan, meddled with her workspace.

“You’d go home and come in the next morning and Eddie had been in your office at some point, and lined up all the papers on the right hand side, exactly one inch apart,” she says, laughing. “I would just lose my mind! And now I find myself going into associates’ offices, taking stuff out, organizing. And I’m even more brazen, because I tend to do it when they’re sitting there.”

Though Henein rules the office design with an iron fist, partner Scott Hutchison stood his ground on one point: his stand-up desk, a bulky wooden piece that clashes tragically with the rest of his office.

“It hurts me daily, because I walk by it several times a day,” says Henein. “I’ve tried to cajole him, I’ve tried to bribe him. There’s no parting with it. The thing is, he has such joy when he’s standing at it. That’s the only point of contention between us.”

The first thing you notice walking in to the ground floor of Henein Hutchison LLP is the sign — a gorgeous glass piece designed by architect Ivan Saleff, inspired by Ellsworth Kelly. The letters were sandblasted to catch the light from surrounding LEDs.

Henein Hutchison office

Saleff punched through the roof to build a skylight on the third floor, lining it with neon green to make it a focal point.

Henein Hutchison office

Henein hired graffiti artist Smug to cover the exposed brick wall, giving him free reign.

Henein Hutchison office

Henein chose two pieces by Toronto photographer Matt Barnes for her office. She came across his work after he shot Henein Hutchison’s firm photos (no, not the group shot picked apart in the press).

Henein Hutchison office

Marie Henein chose large glass desks for the offices and boardrooms. “I hate seams.”

Henein Hutchison office

“Light fixtures are such a rip-off,” says architect Ivan Saleff. “We used affordable, conventional fixtures in an unconventional way.”

Henein Hutchison office

“I would think that most people would find it a bit of an extreme aesthetic,” says Marie Henein of the space she helped design. “But people come in and love it.”

Henein Hutchison office

Henein sourced the office furniture herself, working closely with design stores in the King East Design District, such as her personal favourite, Italinteriors. “I’m obsessive about this stuff.”

Henein Hutchison office

In an office chock-full of things shiny and new, Scott Hutchison’s well-worn briefcase stands out. That beat-up beauty has been to the Supreme Court of Canada 28 times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Winter-2015-cover-smallThis story is from our Winter 2015 issue.

 

 

 


Photography by Nancy Tong