The Circuit: Pro Bono Ontario holds an awards gala to mark its 15th anniversary

What: Pro Bono Ontario’s 15th Anniversary Gala
Where: Fermenting Cellar, 28 Distillery Lane
When: Wednesday, May 18, 2016

“The contributions that lawyers across this province are making through pro bono work is a direct contradiction to the often repeated public image of lawyers and the legal profession, which tends to operate from the old Shakespeare line, The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers,” said Patrick Monahan, the deputy attorney general, to a collective chuckle as he wrapped up his opening remarks at Pro Bono Ontario’s 15th-anniversary awards gala. “In fact, the members of the legal profession are committed to the administration of justice, and to helping the disadvantaged.”

And PBO’s history is a testament to that. Founded in 2001, PBO connects lawyers who want to do good, but perhaps don’t know how. Since its inception, PBO has helped over 100,000 people get access to justice.

Held in the Distillery District, the event saw over 300 members of the legal profession come to celebrate that access to justice.

More than 30 awards were presented to firms and lawyers in categories such as excellence in corporate pro bono and excellence in services to children and youth.

In his closing remarks, David Scott, PBO’s chair emeritus, personally addressed Lynn Burns, the organization’s executive director. “The citizens of Ontario, Lynn, are in your debt. You have created for those in real need, the largest law firm in the province.”

To learn more about Pro Bono Ontario, visit its website.

Have an event coming up? Invite us to your party!

Sponsors of this event included Duff &Phelps and Nera Economic Consulting.

Good News From Bay Street: How PBLO and Bay Street are helping the worst off

Plenty of lawyers in the Bay Street bubble truly want to use their skills to help the less fortunate. And since 2001, Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO) has made it easy to do good by connecting big firms to those in need. And its programs have been a roaring success. Take just one recent example.

Starting in 2009 at SickKids, PBLO assembled an outfit of triage lawyers — a new breed of lawyer that offers free legal advice to families and patients. And today, they’re on-site at all five Ontario children’s hospitals. “They’re making a big difference in access to justice,” says Lynn Burns, executive director a PBLO.

All too often, she explains, sick children are from the poorest families. “So we’re bringing lawyers to their bedsides.” Still, triage lawyers (who work on-staff at PBLO) can’t do everything: some legal troubles need expert counsel. And so, some firms have stepped up, offering to take any work that triage lawyers can’t handle — which ranges from immigration to employment issues — free of charge. To date, they’ve helped more than 3,000 patients and their families.

Here’s a breakdown of which firms are on the case, and which hospitals they are helping:

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario,

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario

Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario, London
Lerners LLP, Siskinds LLP

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP

McMaster Children’s Hospital

McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, Ross & McBride LLP


SickKids, Toronto
McMillan LLP, Torkin Manes LLP, Bellissimo Law Group














Cover of the Fall 2015 Issue of PrecedentThis story is part our series on how Bay Street firms are getting better, from our Fall 2015 issue.