The Christianson TDS law firm, based in Portage la Prairie, is expanding its circle of influence with a new location in Neepawa. The ribbon was cut on-site on Thursday.

Managing partner Barney Christianson says it's been part of their commitment to the province for, what's coming on, 51 years.

"Neepawa was the next logical expansion past the Gladstone, MacGregor and Portage offices we have, but it deserves more than a fly-by-night type of operation," explains Christianson. "So, we didn't want to go there until we could staff it full-time. We've added (lawyers) Mason Broadfoot and Sherry Francis. They're up there five days a week. We're really looking forward to it. It's a great community and we really think we could benefit the community."

He notes, with COVID, it's really tough to get people to think about change, but adds they're satisfied they can do it.

"Right now, Mason is going to handle the load," continues Christianson. "I'll go up there whenever it's needed. No client will have to sit and wait because Mason's in MacGregor and so forth. We've got other lawyers here in Portage. Truth be told, we got another 100 lawyers in Winnipeg and five more in Brandon. So, we won't ever be in a situation where clients' needs will be left laying on the sidewalk waiting for somebody to show up."

Christianson explains what it's been like with the pandemic and starting up a new location in the meantime.

"We had wanted to do it starting in 2019," says Christianson. "In fact, at the beginning of 2020, we were up there looking at premises when along came COVID. Of course, we were in that initial lockdown phase. We couldn't do anything. And then, how do we get people to move to think about a change in their professional life in those circumstances? Well, we're okay now. And like I said, there's a lot of good lawyers out in rural Manitoba; a lot of young lawyers who learned their law in Winnipeg, but would rather be in rural Manitoba. But these haven't been good times to tell them about it and get them started out here. Especially if they've got school-age kids, right? But we'll get there."

they get talking."

Lawyer Mason Broadfoot notes their presence in Gladstone with a branch office serving clients in that community, as well as some in Neepawa, will give them the ability to hopefully attract new clients.

"It's exciting so far," adds Broadfoot. "What I have found in Neepawa is it just seems like there is a lot going on. It feels similar to a few years ago when there was the big announcement of Roquette and Simplot expansion. You could just feel that there was a buzz in Portage. You could feel that big things were on the horizon. And it seems like it's the same way, almost, in Neepawa where you can see that people are starting to get geared up for kind of growth in the area."