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Pro Bono Stories

Our partnership with CASA

By sharing our time, energy and voices, we can build a stronger community both within and beyond our office walls. This article is the first in a series highlighting the pro bono work that Blakes lawyers do in partnership with not-for-profits and community organizations.

CASA: Childhood Arrivals Support and Advocacy

Imagine that despite having exceptional potential, your future and dreams were put on hold because of a piece of paper. That is the story of thousands of Canadians and Ontarians living undocumented in Canada, Blakes Counsel Kaley Pulfer learned when she got involved with the Firm’s work with the Law in Action Within Schools (LAWS) program.

“I wanted to work for a firm with a robust pro bono program, which is what attracted me to Blakes,” Kaley explains.
Blakes has worked with LAWS since 2005, promoting access to a career in law to high school students facing systemic barriers to success. LAWS offers workshops and mentorship to help students develop leadership and civic engagement.
“I met people who had come to Canada as young children and grew up here. They went to elementary and high school here, made friends, went to camp, played sports here – they are Canadian kids. But being undocumented essentially means you need to enroll into university as a foreign student with much higher tuition fees, while at the same time you don’t have access to loans,” Kaley explains. “It’s such a vulnerable position and many are too scared and intimidated to tell their friends about it, let alone seek legal help.”

Through her volunteer work, Kaley learned about the barriers to success that undocumented people face, especially when trying to access higher education.

Together with the then-Director of the LAWS program, Sarah Pole, Kaley started helping these students apply for permanent residency. In 2020, Sarah launched the Childhood Arrivals Support and Advocacy (CASA) Program to help young undocumented people access information, resources and legal support. Blakes now has three lawyers working with CASA.

“This is just the right thing to do – not only because we are helping smart, motivated, and resilient young people realize their potential, but because our communities are better off with these young people in them.”

Blakes serves as pro bono counsel to CASA.