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Pro Bono

Through our pro bono work, we make meaningful contributions to the lives of others – preserving and advancing the welfare of communities and their disadvantaged members. At the same, our lawyers gain practical and professional experience, and pursue areas of passion and interest.

Our formal pro bono policy encourages our lawyers to engage in pro bono work and to incorporate it into their professional development – and we recognize the work as billable work. Overseen by our National Pro Bono Committee, our pro bono activities are identified, coordinated and monitored by Regional Pro Bono Committees, ensuring the highest level of quality control and professional excellence.

Taking a Leadership Role

At BLG, we are proud of our strong tradition of pro bono representation. Our pro bono initiatives make a profound difference for people and organizations that otherwise would be unable to access the legal system. As Canada’s Law Firm, we are proud to have taken on a leadership role in our profession and in the communities we serve across the country.

In 2019, BLG honoured the late David Scott, one of Canada's most distinguished trial and appellate lawyers, with the presentation of a $50,000 donation to Pro Bono Canada in his memory. Pro Bono Canada supports pro bono programs across the country that deliver free legal services to more than 36,000 low-income Canadians annually, including Pro Bono Ontario which David co-founded and chaired for several years.

BLG Pro Bono in Action

  • Veteran’s Review Appeal Board Representation

    For the past 5 years, we have provided pro bono legal services to veterans who have been denied benefits under the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-Establishment and Compensation Act.

    In 2017, Erin Durant and Andrew Paterson represented a veteran in the Federal Court on a successful judicial review application in a case which allowed a veteran ill with cancer to have their benefits reinstated (Northrup v. Canada (Attorney General), 2017 FC 521). This case contributed to systemic change in how the Veterans Review and Appeals Board of Canada treat claims related to Agent Orange exposure.

    In May 2019, Odessa O’Dell argued a successful Judicial Review at the Federal Court. She obtained benefits and costs for a 75-year-old Canadian Armed Forces veteran with hearing loss and tinnitus who had been wrongfully denied disability benefits.

  • The Canadian Civil Liberties Association

    Ewa Krajewska and Pierre Gemson represented the CCLA as intervener at the Supreme Court of Canada in the appeal Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness v. Chinna, (File No. 37770) which was heard in November 2018; decision released May 2019. The appeal involved access to review of immigration detention by way of habeas corpus.

    Chris Bredt and Pierre Gemson, with Jamie Cameron of Osgoode Hall Law School, represented the CCLA in the appeal of Denis v. Cote, (File No. 38114), heard in May 2019. The appeal involves the first case in Canada applying the new Journalistic Sources Protection to an application for compelled disclosure of journalistic source information from a journalist.

  • Refugee Sponsorship and Support Program

    Since 2015, sponsorship experts, pro-bono lawyers, law students, and community organizations have collaborated to offer direct support to Canadians seeking to sponsor refugees. BLG assists Canadian sponsor groups with applications to sponsor one or more refugees to come to Canada. Assistance involves guidance to sponsors on how to fill out sponsorship forms and conducting research on the group and/or the refugee’s eligibility for sponsorship.

  • Homeless ID Project (Vancouver)

    We worked alongside students from the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, Pro Bono Students Canada, and the Lookout Society to help impoverished individuals obtain government identification such as driver’s licenses, status cards, and birth certificates.

  • The ID Project (Ottawa)

    Starting in 2017, lawyers at BLG collaborated with Pro Bono Students Canada and the Ottawa Mission (a homeless shelter in Ottawa) to administer the ID Project. This project helps Ottawa’s most vulnerable populations replace lost or stolen identification.

  • Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives (CLGA)

    Pierre Permingeat assisted CLGA with updating the names of their directors and officers on the public record; filing supplementary letters patent to amend their legal name to “The ArQuives”; and registering “The ArQuives” as a trade name in the interim.

  • Centre de Pédiatrie Sociale Centre-Sud (Montréal)

    In 2018, we handled the union accreditation for the members of the “Centre de Pédiatrie Sociale Centre-Sud”, a paediatrics centre that seeks to identify and reduce factors that influence the development and well-being of children from difficult upbringings.

  • Children’s Legal & Educational Resource Centre (CLERC) (Calgary)

    CLERC is the only organization in Western Canada that provides free legal support to vulnerable children and youth. Through our pro bono work with CLERC, BLG aims to increase knowledge about legal issues and rights facing young people through a range of programs. CLERC strives to reduce family conflict and future developmental harm in circumstances where children require legal intervention.

  • Civil Claims Duty Counsel (CCDC) Pro Bono Project (Calgary)

    The CCDC Project provides individuals with Provincial Court assistance in small claims related matters, including landlord-tenant disputes, insurance or personal injury claims, and employment matters. We provide legal advice, information on court procedure, and assistance with motions or other appearances.

  • Parents of victim of fatal shooting (Montréal)

    We are providing pro bono assistance to a choir whose members may be forced to transfer to another school after the “Commission scolaire de Montréal” decided to terminate an agreement signed more than half a century ago, which ensured that the choir members would study at the College Notre-Dame.

  • Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal (Montréal)

    We are assisting the parents of Noam Cohen, a man fatally shot by the Montreal police after a car pursuit in 2017. We are providing pro bono legal advice and guidance to Mr. Cohen’s family in their pursuit for justice.

  • Pro Bono Ontario

    Over 30 BLG lawyers volunteer annually at the PBO Legal Advice Hotline and in person at Superior Court, Small Claims Court and providing individuals with assistance in civil claims, landlord-tenant disputes, employment matters, estates and other disputes. We provide legal information on court procedure, legal drafting, and trials and motions in Small Claims Court.

  • Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Society, North Shore Zen Society, BC Lupus Society

    We oversaw the transition of several organizations to comply with the new BC Societies Act and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. Our lawyers provided guidance on a variety of topics, including the acquisition of a gaming license, employment-related advice for executives, revenue generation, and landlord-tenant negotiations.

  • BLG Business Venture Clinic (Calgary)

    The BLG Business Venture Clinic is a student-run, pro bono legal clinic at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law that provides free legal information to Calgary’s entrepreneurs and start-ups. Students are supervised by BLG lawyers to provide legal services to local entrepreneurs.

Award Winning Pro Bono Work

  • In 2019, Erin Durant was awarded the David Scott QC Award for Pro Bono Law, an annual OBA award given to a lawyer for their outstanding contribution to pro bono legal services.
  • The 2019 Lexpert Zenith Awards honoured Erin Durant for her tremendous work developing solutions to save Law Help Centres, which are legal clinics that operate out of the Ottawa Courthouse, providing legal services to low-income individuals.
  • In 2018, Guy Pratte was awarded the Medal of The Bar of Montréal for his remarkable contribution to the cause of justice, notably by founding various pro bono committees and programs such as Justice Pro Bono (formerly Pro Bono Québec) and BLG’s national pro bono program.

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