What we do

We’re not afraid to have difficult conversations. In fact, we believe that asking tough questions lies at the heart of our success.

Our experience at DSBL has been that successful transition planning most often requires the guidance and support of a trusted professional advisor.

We remind business owners that transition planning is a process, not an event. We support them as they re-examine their business with a critical eye – the eye of a buyer.

The process requires input from various stakeholders linked to family enterprises – family members, key staff, management, and trusted advisors.

It is not enough to create a succession plan and an estate plan that is tax efficient. It needs to start by being people efficient. There is a good reason why more than 70 per cent of family-owned businesses do not make it to the next generation.

Each family enterprise is unique and has its own vision and family dynamics. Each family member’s perspective deserves acknowledgment and respect. “Silence is the great destroyer of wealth in a family business” (Tom Deans). We ask owners to share the history, challenges, and opportunities of their business. We also give family members the opportunity, in one-on-one confidential conversations, to share their perspectives, issues and objectives.

We develop a relationship built on trust. The information shared with us helps shape the context of discussions in facilitated forums that we lead with family members. The insights gained in the information gathering process provide valuable tools to focus and manage the dialogue. It is collaborative, and invites participation among other trusted advisors, such as accountants, insurance advisors, valuators, and wealth advisors.

Our process has two objectives. The first is to create an ownership transition plan and an estate plan that implements the founder’s and the family’s goals and, to the greatest extent possible, has the endorsement of each of the members of the family. The second is for the owner to look at the business through the lens of a buyer and answer the question: “Are you running your business as if it’s for sale?”. That change in perspective opens the door to identifying the structures and approaches that are needed to professionalize the business.

The final step is to give these objectives expression in shareholder and estate planning arrangements and corporate policies that are fair and transparent and that look to marry family objectives with best business practices and tax-smart strategies.

David Shlagbaum has been by my side looking after the best interests of my family business for over 20 years , whether it was a Purchase Sale agreement , Shareholder agreement , Real estate Purchases or Family Estate planning, David went out of his way to protect my rights and personal wealth. David has a high degree of integrity and a cheerful personality; he is one of those rare individuals who can see complicated situations from a wide lens angle and explain it in simple terms. David has become an essential part of our Family Business and I look forward to working with him for many more years.

Daniel Chretien, Entrepreneur, Emerging Food Markets Inc.

I consider myself fortunate to have worked with David Shlagbaum through two challenging business ownership transitions. He is above all, trust-worthy. That is a mouthful when it comes to choosing who to work with around some of life's most stressful issues. It takes a special person to marry lawyering and facilitation. And he is special. He is a patient listener and creative problem-solver who keeps the focus on practicality, fairness and future well-being. His years of working with all the complex issues faced by family-owned businesses make him a treasured ally in the process of needed changes.

Alice Klein, Co-Founder & former owner: NOW Magazine

David and I go a while back at the onset of our careers as young professionals. Throughout the years, I had the opportunity to benefit from David’s knowledge and expertise in a variety of client situations involving complex tax reorganizations as well as business purchases and sales. He has been invaluable in counselling family owned businesses that typically involve sensitive family dynamics. David is a very strong communicator and our clients are able to grasp complex matter with relative ease. David is not only an excellent business advisor but he is a great individual. It is my pleasure and privilege having the opportunity to work with him!

Allen Koroll, President, Koroll & Company Chartered Professional Accountants


I have been fortunate to work with David over many, many years and very much value his council. He is one of those few people you meet in life who, by way of metaphor, can rapidly scale a ‘ladder up into the clouds’ and see new and far reaching, imaginative ways to navigate a problem, then quick ‘descend the ladder’, with his feet firmly rooted on the ground, to find practical, realistic and workable ways to execute and get the solution over the finish line. Equally important, solving delicate problems, requires carefully understanding and skillfully handling of personalities and human emotions, which are often at the core of the issue; a rare skill which David is a master.

Tye Farrow, Senior Partner, Farrow Partners


David Shlagbaum is both a gentleman and a scholar which make him an invaluable asset when attempting to negotiate the transfer of a business from one generation to the next. He truly comprehends the challenges involved in this endeavour. When dealing with issues such as succession and legacy, you need to be intelligent and patient enough to understand the business to assess its proper value and calculate a fair price. However, you also have to be empathetic enough to grasp the complicated emotions involved in a family-run or close-knit business that may be subconsciously preventing a deal from getting done. David is blessed with an abundance of these characteristics. He is also ethical, kind, patient and persuasive. When looking for a lawyer or facilitator to assist either one party or all parties involved in this type of transaction, David's education, experience and temperament set him apart.

Jason Katz, Partner Singer Katz LLP


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