Book – Breakdown

Breakdown - book cover

Available at fine book stores
everywhere, including:


The Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of Heenan Blaikie

by Norman Bacal

​Heenan Blaikie was one of Canada’s leading law firms that boasted 1,100 employees and once had two former prime ministers on its staff—Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. When it collapsed in February 2014, lawyers across Canada and the business community were stunned. What went wrong? Why did so many lawyers run for the exit? How did it implode? What is it that holds professional partnerships together?

This is the story of the rise and fall of a great company by the ultimate insider, Norman Bacal, who served as managing partner until a year before the firm’s demise. Breakdown takes readers into the boardroom offices during the heady growth of a legal empire built from the ground up over 40 years. We see how after a change of leadership tensions erupted between the Toronto and Montreal offices, and between the hard-driving lawyers themselves. It is a story about the extraordinary fragility of the legal partnership, but it’s also a classic business story, a cautionary tale of the perils of ignoring a firm’s culture and vision.

book specs

6” x 9”

352 pgs.


$29.95 (hardcover)

$16.99 (ebook)


978-1-988025-15-5 (hardcover)

978-1-988025-20-9 (ebook)

release date

feb. 28, 2017

media contact


Number 1 Best Seller Icon

in Management on,

in Legal Profession on

in Legal History on

Top 100 Best Seller Icon


Globe & Mail Best Seller Icon

for Canadian Non-ficton, during the week of March 25, 2017

An illuminating insider’s account of the collapse of one of Canada’s premier law firms. Puts you in the passenger seat of a train wreck.

Jacquie McNish

Senior Correspondent

The Wall Street Journal

Good storytelling makes for a good book. Norman Bacal’s ability to render a business story accessible to all readers, not just lawyers, makes this an entertaining read.

Robert Lantos

Film Producer, Chairman

Serendipity Point Films

A fascinating and important business story, whose lessons on the impact of culture and leadership apply to all organizations, regardless of size, sector or geography.

Calin Rovinescu

President and CEO

Air Canada

Jaw dropping!

Drew Hasselback


Legal Post section of the National Post

…Great flow and well put together. It all boils down to leadership…an awesome read…

Ellis Jacob

President and CEO


An enjoyable read.

Canadian Business History Association



June 4th, 2018

Norman Bacal will be speaking at a conference organized by the management consulting Burnie Group in Toronto.

Mar 7th, 2018

Norman Bacal will be giving a talk at Osgood Hall.

Feb 14th, 2018

Norman Bacal will be giving a talk at the University of Ottawa.

Jan 24th, 2018

Norman Bacal will be talking about his bestselling book, Breakdown, at the venerable Toronto Club on January 24. He’ll talk about the rise and fall of the Heenan Blaikie law firm that he led until a year before its sudden demise.