Blakes plays a leading role in promoting the delivery of pro bono legal services in Canada and encourages associates and partners to pursue worthwhile causes. The Firm was among the first national law firms in Canada to adopt a formal policy that treats time spent on pro bono legal services as equivalent to billable hours. Blakes was among the first to also form a national committee to review and proactively seek out pro bono opportunities. Blakes conducts regular seminars to discuss pro bono projects and successes.

Blakes is also an active member of Access Pro Bono Society of British Columbia, and actively supports Pro Bono Law Alberta and Pro Bono Law Ontario, which are not-for-profit organizations dedicated to enhancing access to pro bono legal services.

Today, Blakes is proud to say it has one of the largest pro bono programs in Canada.

Connect Legal

Blakes is one of the founding law firms of Connect Legal, a not-for-profit corporate legal clinic in Toronto that connects immigrant entrepreneurs with commercial lawyers for free legal help. We recently assisted Carolina Velez of Columbia Exotics and Sanjay Pandrala of The Bug Man, winners of Connect Legal’s inaugural immigrant entrepreneur award. Together with the winners, we served three of the five finallist immigrant small-business owners who had received the support of Connect Legal.

160 Girls

Blakes provides research and strategic litigation support to the 160 Girls project, a groundbreaking initiative promoted by the not-for-profit organization the equality effect. 160 Girls seeks to compel the enforcement of existing laws in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi that prohibit sexual assault and bring light to the epidemic of sexual violence against women and girls. The project also aims to increase understanding of how systemic discrimination perpetuates such assaults. Blakes was instrumental in assisting 160 Girls achieve a landmark victory in May 2013 where Kenyan law enforcement officials were ordered to investigate and prosecute crimes of sexual violence.

War Child Canada

In 2013, one of our associates travelled to Northern Uganda with War Child Canada to participate in their Access to Justice Program. War Child is an international charity that works with war-affected communities to help children reclaim their childhood through access to education, opportunity and justice. The Access to Justice Program assists in training Ugandan lawyers, paralegals and the community at large to help raise awareness and mitigate further conflict.

Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention

Boost is committed to eliminating abuse and violence in the lives of children, youth and their families. Blakes is currently providing pro bono legal services to Boost with respect to the formation of the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre for the City of Toronto. The program will be run by Boost with the involvement and participation of certain service partners, including Toronto Police, Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, among others.

Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House seeks to provide a home away from home for seriously ill children and their families to heal better together. Blakes has been providing pro bono services to Ronald McDonald House in both Toronto and Southern Alberta for the past five years. One of our partners is a member of the board of directors of the Toronto house, and others serve on committees and participate in various activities.

Boys and Girls Clubs

For many years, Blakes has been providing advice on corporate matters to Boys and Girls Clubs organizations in various centres. We have assisted the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver and the Boys and Girls Club Community Services of Delta/Richmond with a consensual merger to expand and enhance the services they provide to children, youth and families in need. In Calgary, we have been providing an annual Blakes scholarship for youth who have forged their way through periods of homelessness to further their educational pursuits and find self-sufficiency.

Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)

CACL is a family-based association assisting people with intellectual disabilities and their families to lead the way in advancing inclusion in their own lives and in their communities. Blakes has been providing pro bono assistance to CACL since 2001, in addition to helping bring awareness to the stigma surrounding intellectual disabilities.

Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC)

ARSBC is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in the creation of marine habitat and attractions for scuba divers by repurposing large vessels as artificial reefs after ensuring that potentially harmful substances are removed from the vessel. For a number of years, Blakes provided regulatory advice and acted for ARSBC in various legal proceedings concerning the proposed sinking of the HMCS Annapolis, a large former navy vessel. The project culminated in success when the Annapolis was sunk in a bay near Vancouver.

Flip Your Wig for Justice

Blakes is a proud supporter of the Flip Your Wig for Justice campaign, which raises pledge-based funds and awareness in support of five Ontario organizations that promote access to justice: Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Community Legal Education Ontario, METRAC – Action on Violence, Ontario Justice Education Network and Pro Bono Students Canada. In return for the generous donations they receive, members of Flip Your Wig sport wigs one day a year as a show of thanks and camaraderie to their supporters.

Special Olympics Canada

Blakes has worked closely with the Canadian Special Olympics organization on a pro bono basis for many years, providing support as directors and officers and providing legal advice on a wide range of corporate and sports matters.

Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation

Since 2015, Blakes has been supporting the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation on establishing a Canadian not-for-profit corporation, Convergence Blended Finance, Inc., to connect, develop and support blended finance investments in developing countries. Blakes has also taken the lead in coordinating other pro bono efforts in support of Convergence across the Lex Mundi network with lawyers in the U.S., the U.K., Netherlands, Switzerland, Hong Kong, South Africa and other jurisdictions. We are also working on registering Convergence with the Ontario Securities Commission in an effort to roll out its full capabilities.

Evergreen Brick Works Project

Blakes is making a significant difference to the environment by actively supporting “social entrepreneurs,” such as Evergreen, a charity dedicated to making cities more liveable. Their Brick Works project in Toronto is a derelict industrial site that has been transformed into an environmental centre showcasing sustainability and green design. Since 2004, over 85 Blakes lawyers have played critical roles in guiding the project to fruition.

Habitat for Humanity Canada (HFHC)

HFHC has over 50,000 volunteers and 72 affiliate organizations coast-to-coast. Since 2007, over 50 Blakes partners, associates and law clerks have worked on HFHC-related legal matters on a pro bono basis. Teams of Blakes members also participate annually in HFHC construction projects, such as its first-ever Women’s Build Blitz to help launch the largest women’s build project ever undertaken in Canada. In 2015, we partnered with several LGBT clients to build a home for a family in Scarborough, Toronto, through the PrideBuild initiative with HFHC.

Parkinson's Society of British Columbia (PSBC)

Since 2006, Blakes has worked in partnership with the PSBC, providing advice to individuals with Parkinson’s, developing general resources to make people aware of the legal rights of individuals with Parkinson’s, and providing corporate governance advice. Many of the cases Blakes supports involve fighting discrimination in the workplace and barriers to services or facilities generally available to the public.

International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP)

Working through ISLP, a non-government organization, Blakes has been assisting with the restoration of the legal system of Liberia in West Africa since 2007. More recently, we have provided training to government officials in Senegal on environmental and social impact assessments, public consultation and corporate social responsibility in the context of mining projects. We have also provided advice on a community impact agreement related to a palm oil production project in Liberia. In addition, one of our partners is involved with ISLP as a member of their board of directors.

Right to Play International (RTP)

This international not-for-profit works to improve the lives of children in disadvantaged areas of the world using the power of sport and play. Since 2006, Blakes has assisted RTP in a wide variety of matters, including helping it to become a recognized international leader in the not-for-profit humanitarian sector.​​​​​​​​