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Pro Bono

Pro Bono
Pro Bono
We share our time, energy and voices to make an impact.

Blakes is home to one of Canada’s largest pro bono programs, and we continue to play a leading role in promoting the delivery of pro bono legal services in Canada. We were among the first to adopt a formal policy that treats time spent on pro bono legal services as equivalent to billable hours, and to form a national committee that reviews and proactively seeks out pro bono opportunities. 

 

We are proud to provide legal guidance to the following initiatives and organizations: 

160 Girls

An initiative promoted by 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. 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. In 2017, 160 Girls was recognized by the United Nations for advancing women's rights.

Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland

Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower girls to reach their potential. A Blakes partner is a director and co-chair of the board. We also have a team of Blakes lawyers who provide pro bono advice in the area of employment, governance and financial services.​

Boys and Girls Clubs

For many years, Blakes has been providing advice on corporate matters to Boys and Girls Clubs in various centres. We have assisted the clubs in Vancouver and Delta/Richmond, B.C., 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 homeless youth to further their educational pursuits and find self-sufficiency. 

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)

Since 2010, Blakes has represented the BCCLA in six interventions before the Supreme Court of Canada. The cases involved a wide variety of issues of public importance, including internet defamation, wiretaps, election advertising, warrantless searches, religious membership and freedom of information. Our submissions helped the court define the issues and resolve the cases in keeping with Canada’s fundamental legal principles.

CCASA

Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA)

Blakes provides legal advice to the Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA), an abuse and assault crisis and education service provider. The CCASA strives to enhance the health and well-being of the community through responsible and effective programs in sexual abuse education, research and advocacy, as well as crisis intervention and counselling.

Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)

The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) is a national federation of 13 provincial-territorial associations and over 300 local associations working to advance the full inclusion and human rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families. Blakes has been providing pro bono assistance to CACL since 2001, in addition to helping bring awareness to the exclusion and stigma surrounding intellectual disability.

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF)

CBCF is supported in a number of ways, including through a partner at Blakes who has been a member of the board of directors with CBCF since 2002 and through the Firm's involvement in their fundraising work across the country, including the Run for the Cure and Daffodil Month.

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. Some of the individuals we have assisted were also winners or finalists of Connect Legal’s inaugural immigrant entrepreneur award.

Connected North

Connected North

In 2020, Blakes began providing pro bono legal services and support to Connected North — an initiative to improve educational outcomes in remote indigenous communities. This exciting program relies on state-of-the-art technology to enable students to join engaging and innovative programming by interactive video conferencing, an approach that welcomes students living in remote communities to join in and be a part of the bounty of educational opportunities in Canada.
 
Together Project

Together Project

The Firm has partnered with Together Project, a non-profit effort to match government-assisted refugees with Welcome Groups of volunteers who secure housing, schools and physicians and provide less tangible social support. In addition to facilitating the creation of Welcome Groups, Blakes plans to offer training to staff and lawyers who wish to assist with pro bono reunification efforts for new-comer families working with Together Project. This year, Together Project spoke at Blakes, and we offered pro bono services to develop resources for the organization.

Trans ID

Trans ID

In 2018, Blakes lawyers volunteered with the Pro Bono Students Canada Trans ID clinic in Toronto. The clinic supports youth who require assistance in obtaining or changing ID in relation to gender identity. This is an invaluable resource and support is critical for transgender youth going through a challenging time.

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 livable. Their Brick Works project in Toronto was a derelict industrial site that was 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.

Fast and Female

Fast and Female strives to empower young women in sport by providing them strong, resilient athlete role models who work with the girls through various programs and events to instill in them their motto: “Girls in sports are empowered for life!” Blakes continues to work on contractual and organizational matters with Fast and Female, including drafting sponsorship contracts and assisting with the development of their governance manual.

Habitat for Humanity Canada (HFHC)

Since 2007, over 50 Blakes partners, associates and law clerks have provided pro bono legal assistance to HFHC. Blakes teams 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 LGBTQ+ clients to build a home for a family in Scarborough, Ontario, through HFHC's PrideBuild initiative.

Homeless ID

Homeless ID

Blakes has partnered with Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) to support their homeless ID clinic for many years.

International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP)

Blakes works with ISLP on providing pro bono assistance to governments in Africa. In Liberia, we helped restore the country’s legal system and advised on a community impact agreement related to palm oil production. In Senegal, we trained government officials on environmental and social impact assessments, public consultation, and social responsibility in the context of mining projects. In Zimbabwe, we trained police, prosecutors, private-practice lawyers and members of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit and Anti-Corruption Commission on detecting, investigating and preventing economic crime. One of our partners is also a member of ISLP’s board of directors.

Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation

Blakes has supported the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation with 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 assisted with registering Convergence with the Ontario Securities Commission to roll out its full capabilities.

Parkinson Society 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.

Power of Attorney Clinics

Blakes has partnered with Pro Bono Ontario and BMO to provide power of attorney (POA) services for personal care and property to patients at local hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa through POA Clinics. Our volunteers consist of partners, associates and staff lawyers.

PREVNet

PREVNet

PREVNet is a national network of leading researchers and organizations working together to stop bullying in Canadaand a world leader in bullying prevention, . Blakes provided pro bono legal counsel for the development of publicly available resources for parents and educators looking to create safe and inclusive environments for children.

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.

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.​​​​​​​​​​

​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.

The Ocean Cleanup
Blakes assisted The Ocean Cleanup with landing its first shipment of plastic waste retrieved from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in Vancouver. The organization’s mission is to capture and collect plastic debris from our oceans and transform it into sustainable products that can be sold to help fund future clean-up operations. Our role was to help navigate the Canada/B.C. regulatory regime for the construction of the clean-up system prototype (built in Campbell River, B.C.), as well as towing the system out to sea and shipping the recovered plastic waste through Vancouver.

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