RELEASE: Canadian Lawyers Honoured for Pro Bono Legal Work for the Poor and Disadvantaged
Monday, September 15, 2008
- Organization: PBLBC, PBLA, PBLO, PBLS
2 lawyers, 1 pro bono clinic, and 1 law firm to receive National Pro Bono Awards
The 2008 Canadian National Pro Bono Awards will be presented by Ottawa lawyer David W. Scott, Q.C. at the 2nd National Pro Bono Conference Dinner & Canadian Pro Bono Awards Ceremony in Vancouver on September 18. The Hon. Louise Arbour, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will provide the keynote address at the dinner.
Edmonton lawyers Dennis Edney and Nathan Whitling, Saskatoon community organization Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City Inc. (CLASSIC), and national law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP are the three honoured recipients of the awards that recognize distinguished service in the provision of pro bono legal services to the poor. Details on each appear below.
These awards are a national celebration of the dedication and commitment of the many lawyers who give their time freely to represent those who need but cannot afford legal assistance or qualify for legal aid.
The awards will be presented as part of the 2nd National Pro Bono Conference taking place in Vancouver on September 18 and 19. The Conference is hosted by Pro Bono Law Alberta, Pro Bono Law of British Columbia, Pro Bono Law Ontario, and Pro Bono law Saskatchewan. For more information on the Conference and the awards, please visit www.probonoconference.ca.
Dennis Edney and Nathan Whitling have devoted countless hours jointly fighting for the rights of Omar Khadr who has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay since 2002. The significance of their commitment is based not only on the tremendous time, energy, and personal resources spent advocating on Mr. Khadr's behalf, but also based on the complexity of the litigation, which was argued before Canadian and U.S. courts and military tribunals. Their commitment in the face of potential personal repercussions of representing an unpopular case is a testament to the finest tradition of the legal profession. The fruits of their labour have not only increased access to justice for one individual, but impacted human rights the world over.
Community Legal Services for Saskatoon Inner City, Inc. (CLASSIC) was founded in 2005 by a group of University of Saskatchewan College of Law Students concerned by the lack of poverty law services in Saskatoon, CLASSIC has grown as an institution that is respected and supported by local community service groups, the College of Law, the private bar and the government. Since officially opening its doors in February 2007, CLASSIC has served hundreds of low-income clients that could not qualify for legal aid and could not afford to hire a lawyer. CLASSIC operates a Walk-in Advocacy Clinic and a Legal Advice Clinic. The group has made extraordinary accomplishments as a bare-bones organization - with two full time staff members and two Student Managers (each volunteering a number of hours a week) providing overall management and program coordination. CLASSIC is also supported by seven pro bono lawyers and over forty law students during the school year. Although it is a young organization, CLASSIC is an object lesson in what can be achieved when law students make a firm commitment to access to justice. They represent the best in the profession and its future.
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is a national firm that has adopted a national pro bono policy. It has been a leader in national pro bono activities for several years, formally partnering with groups like Evergreen Canada, Parkinson's Society of British Columbia, Pro Bono Law of BC's Civil Chambers Pro Bono Duty Counsel Project and Pro Bono Law Ontario's Small Claims Duty Counsel Project. Moreover, Blake's encourages individual lawyer participation through pro bono rosters for PBLO (including its Law Help Ontario project, Child Advocacy Project, and Volunteer Lawyers Service), for PBLBC and for the Salvation Army and ACCESS Justice's pro bono projects. Blakes also dedicates a significant amount of pro bono work done on behalf of international clients in developing countries. In 2008, the firm offered its support to AIDS-Free World to assist on legal investigations of crimes against humanity occurring in Zimbabwe, where women and girls have been subjected to gang rape, torture, and the threat of HIV infection as part of a campaign of violence against the political opposition.