Overview Section Content 1BLG's Pro Bono ProgramLawyers who engage in pro bono work make meaningful contributions to the lives of others – preserving and advancing the welfare of communities and their disadvantaged members. At the same time, such lawyers gain practical and professional development experience, have an opportunity to pursue areas of passion and interest, and invariably are enriched by their pro bono experiences.As part of our national commitment to pro bono work, BLG has a formal pro bono policy that reflects our professional responsibility to help those in our communities who would otherwise be unable to obtain access to justice or legal services.Our pro bono work offers deserving clients a full range of legal activities – including courtroom advocacy, legal advice, drafting of documents, community legal education, and alternate dispute resolution services.All BLG lawyers are encouraged to engage in pro bono work and to incorporate it into their professional development – and our pro bono clients receive the same high level of service as do our paying clients.Overseen by BLG’s National Pro Bono Committee, the Firm’s pro bono activities are identified, coordinated and monitored by Regional Pro Bono Committees, ensuring the highest level of quality control and professional excellence. Opportunities for GraduatesMany law school graduates actively seek firms with a commitment to pro bono work. If you aspire to join a professional environment that emphasizes community involvement and giving back, we would welcome hearing from you.To read more about BLG's pro bono work, please download the brochure. Guy Pratte on Pro Bono at BLG Guy Pratte, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) and former chair of the Firm's National Council, discusses BLG's Pro Bono Program and explains why the Firm believes providing access to justice is a key component of our national platform. Award Winning Pro Bono Work Section Content 2We are proud to have received the following awards for our Pro Bono work:Bruce Churchill-Smith, Q.C. was honoured with a Distinguished Service Award for Pro Bono Legal Service from the Law Society of Alberta in 2015. These awards are presented annually to Alberta lawyers in recognition of their outstanding dedication, creativity, initiative, achievement and contribution to pro bono services.The 2014 Canadian National Pro Bono Distinguished Service Award from Pro Bono Canada was awarded to Duncan Marsden for his outstanding commitment to providing pro bono services throughout his career. In 2014, BLG partner Guy Pratte was awarded the prestigious St. Yves Medal by Pro Bono Québec for his commitment to providing pro bono services. BLG took home the award for “Pro Bono Firm of the Year” at the 2013 Benchmark Canada Awards for the firms representation of Réjean Hinse in his wrongful conviction civil lawsuit against the Federal and Québec governments. The 2011 Lexpert Zenith Awards bestowed BLG with the top prize in five categories for the Firm's contribution to corporate social responsibility programs across Canada. The Zenith Awards honour leading Canadian law firms, in-house departments and law students who commit their time, skills and mentorship to corporate and law firm social responsibility:A team of lawyers overseen by Guy Pratte, Katherine Poirier and Katherine Loranger won the Pro Bono Team of the Year award for their successful representation of Réjean Hinse in his wrongful conviction civil lawsuit against the Federal and Québec governments. Tyler Hodgson, Margot Finley and Karen Kiang were handed the Pro Bono by Team or Firm award for their work with the Muslim Canadian Congress. Mark Phillips, Vincent De Rose, Nadia Effendi and Jacquie El-Chammas won in the Firm Legal Team - Pensions category for their pro bono representation of veterans to ensure they and their families receive the disability settlements to which they are entitled under the law. The team represents veterans who were unsuccessful before the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, enabling them to seek judicial review of the Board's decisions before the Federal Court.In addition to being recognized for our pro bono work, BLG also took home awards for Managing Partner Contribution to Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Social Responsibility by Law Firm that Impacts Children. BLG received the Canadian National Law Firm Award in 2010 at the Canadian Pro Bono Conference. This award is a tremendous honour as it recognizes a Canadian law firm that has made an outstanding contribution to the provision of pro bono legal services. The 2010 Lexpert Zenith Awards honoured BLG with the top prize in four categories for the Firm’s commitment to a diverse range of pro bono activities: David W. Scott received the award for Lifetime Achievement in Pro Bono for his dedication to access to justice for low income individuals. David Sherriff-Scott received the award for Change Agent: Disability for his work with the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario. David provides pro bono work to children with disabilities and their families and he also advises and acts as litigation counsel for children who are defined as exceptional pupils under the Education Act, including those with autism, intellectual disabilities and behavioural disorders. A team from BLG Calgary, led by Bruce Churchill-Smith, took home the award for Most Impact on Child or Children for their pro bono work with the Child Advocacy Project. The Child Advocacy Pro Bono Project provides vulnerable children and youth in Calgary with access to free legal assistance, representation and legal education in a variety of civil law matters. A team from Montréal that included Emmanuelle Roland, François Morin, Mélanie Champagne and Sylvie Bouvette won the award for Multi-Disciplinary Pro Bono for their work with the Foundation du Dr. Julien. For its efforts with Children’s Legal & Educational Resource Centre, the Calgary team was awarded the prestigious 2008 Pro Bono Project Award by Pro Bono Law Alberta. Representative Work Section Content 3 BLG Pro Bono in ActionA BLG Team provided Réjean Hinse with pro bono representation in a landmark civil lawsuit. Wrongfully convicted of armed robbery in 1964, Mr. Hinse was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 1997, he was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Canada, 8 years after the Québec Police Commission re-opened his case and concluded that Mr. Hinse was the victim of a botched investigation. BLG’s team worked tirelessly for three years leading up to a six-week civil trial, where Mr. Hinse was awarded a total of $13.1 million in compensation from the Federal and Québec governments. This is the largest award of its nature in Canadian history. The matter has recently been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.Representing an intervenor in proceedings before the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Court of Appeal for British Columbia challenging the constitutionality of provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada that criminalize physician-assisted death. The high-profile case is being followed closely by observers in Canada and internationally, and is proceeding to the Supreme Court of Canada in late 2014.The Firm established the BLG Veterans’ Benefits Project to ensure that Canadian veterans and their families receive the disability benefits to which they are entitled under the law. Since the fall of 2010, BLG lawyers have represented numerous veterans across Canada in applications for judicial review before the Federal Court.We represented several parents who were reassessed by the Canada Revenue Agency in connection with tuition paid for their children, who were diagnosed with learning disabilities, to attend a specialized school. BLG successfully overturned the tax reassessments and a claim for the tuition paid was allowed: Karn v. The Queen, 2013 TCC 78. This case is a helpful precedent to many parents across Canada who incur significant costs related to children with learning disabilities. BLG lawyers provided pro bono assistance to the parents of Lin Jun, the Chinese Concordia University student who was tragically murdered in a high profile case. The BLG team provided legal advice and guidance to Mr. Jun’s family with respect to the Canadian Justice System.BLG lawyers acted for The 625 Powell Street Foundation in its acquisition of property at 611 Powell Street in Vancouver's Downtown East Side. The site will be used as part of a multifaceted approach to supporting the development, planning and coordination of HIV/AIDS priority research, initiated by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. The Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC), a progressive, multi-cultural public interest advocacy group, enlisted the pro bono representation of BLG on an intervention before the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada. The MCC argued in favour of the courts undertaking a particularized inquiry for each witness who wants to wear a niqab (a garment that fully obscures a woman from view except for a narrow eye slit) in court. The matter went to the Supreme Court of Canada, where the Court ultimately found that the trial judge had failed to properly address the conflicting rights at issue. This finding caused the matter to be sent back to trial along with a list of questions and considerations designed to assist first instance judges in determining whether a niqab should be prohibited in the Court room on a case by case basis. BLG lawyers represented Loyola High School, a Jesuit-administered school, before the Superior Court of Québec in respect of a decision made by the Minister of Education of Québec to refuse the school’s request to be exempted from teaching a new mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture program. Loyola filed for exemption on the basis that it was a public school and free to teach it’s students according to it’s own principles which included an equivalent program. The application was dismissed by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports but in June 2010, a Superior Court judge sided with Loyola on the grounds that the school teaches the subject using its own program.BLG lawyers incorporated the Westcoast Boys Club Network Foundation as a British Columbia society and obtained charitable registration for the Foundation with the Canada Revenue Agency. The Foundation provides education, support, mentorship, food, clothing and other basic necessities to at-risk young males in British Columbia. It also seeks to encourage better community understanding of the problems faced by young males by organizing public performances. We helped establish a Canadian foundation to support the Patrick Chege Memorial Orphanage in Kenya. The orphanage’s main goal is to help the 1.5 million Kenyan children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.We represented Operation Go Home, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping street youth. The matter involved allegations that Operation Go Home and one of its directors were responsible for building code violations. BLG was successful in negotiating a dismissal against the individual director, and an April 2008 trial was adjourned to permit further settlement discussions.BLG constitutional lawyers represented a same-sex couple before the Court of Appeal for Ontario seeking the same rights as heterosexual couples in respect of the regulation of artificial insemination procedures.As part of a program that commenced in 2005, BLG litigation and estates lawyers have provided assistance to the Ontario Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL), whereby our lawyers provide legal advice and litigation services to needy children under the direction of the OCL.BLG Lawyers successfully represented a claimant in a WorksafeBC claim with respect to a workplace injury. The matter went through numerous levels of review and appeals at both WorksafeBC and WCAT and was ultimately successful resulting in the client receiving the wage loss payments and return to work allowance owed as a result of the injury. BLG lawyers assisted the Pivot Legal Society, an advocacy group representing the City of Abbotsford's homeless people, in a dispute with the City over their right to camp on public property, alleging the City's regulations and harassment tactics violated their Charter rights. A Supreme Court decision ruled that the homeless were allowed to camp on public property overnight, and rejected the City's request for a permanent injunction against homeless camping. Pro Bono Leaders Section Content 4Meet Our National Pro Bono Leaders Bruce Churchill-Smith, QC, is a Calgary partner and serves as the Chair of BLG’s National Pro Bono Committee and as the President of Pro Bono Law Alberta. Kirk Boyd is a partner in the Ottawa office. His pro bono work includes assisting children through the Office of the Children's Lawyer, and co-coordinating volunteers for the Law Help Ontario Clinic at the Ottawa Courthouse. Alexander De Zordo, is a Montréal partner and serves as the Chair of Pro Bono Québec. Ronald Foerster is a Toronto partner and a member of the National Pro Bono Committee. Katherine Poirier is a partner in the Montréal office. Guy Pratte is a Montréal partner and recipient of the St. Yves Medal in 2014 for his contributions to pro bono work. David Scott, OC, QC, is the Past Chair of Pro Bono Law Ontario and in 2010 received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Pro Bono at the 2010 Lexpert Zenith Awards.Steve Warnett is a Vancouver partner and a member of the National Pro Bono Committee.