“Life is short and we as lawyers can do so much to help our community.”
The Ontario Bar Association is proud to announce the winner of the inaugural David C. Scott Award for Pro Bono Law, C. Katie Black of Ottawa.
A Judicial Affairs Advisor to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Katie somehow finds time to provide pro bono support to the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP), a national organization of over 1,200 pro-bono lawyers and students across twelve cities in Canada.
In 2015, after feeling helpless while watching news reports of the struggles Syrian refugees were facing, inspiration struck – what if Canada’s lawyers rallied together to cut through the bureaucratic tape to assist Syrians seeking safe haven in Canada? And so, with the collaboration of friends and colleagues at the University of Ottawa, the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) was established.
The program trains non-refugee lawyers in the area of private refugee sponsorship and then matches them with Canadians wanting to sponsor. Katie helped create lawyer and client intake procedures, ran the tax and trust law referral system and obtained insurance for retired and part-time lawyers.
Today, her main objective is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the SSP. She has helped obtain more than $280,000 in funding given the critical demand for the SSP’s service and the need for staff to coordinate the 1,000+ pro bono lawyers across the country.
Katie’s dedication to her pro bono work is only matched by the dedication she has exhibited in her career. From the get-go, Katie began with unparalleled training as a law clerk to Chief Justice of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin. She went on to practise civil litigation, malpractice, privacy law and commercial arbitration with Caza Saikaley LLP. In 2016 she was appointed Judicial Affairs Advisor to the Honourable Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould. In her position, Katie works closely with the Minister and the judicial advisory committees to assess the qualifications for the appointment of judges across Canada.
On April 26, 2017, lawyers from across Ontario gathered at the OBA’s annual awards gala to recognized that dedication, as Katie was presented with the 2017 David C. Scott Award for Pro Bono Law for her extraordinary pro bono achievements.
For more information about the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program, please visit http://refugeessp.ca/home/.
The Award was established to recognize contributions and achievements by members of the Ontario Bar Association in the practice of pro bono law; promotion and enhancement of pro bono law; and/or leadership in the area of pro bono law. And, who better to name the award after than Mr. David Scott.
Mr. Scott is co-chairperson of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, and counsel in the Ottawa office. Mr. Scott has been a leader in pro bono law and remains a strong advocate for increasing access to justice. He is a strong proponent of the view that creating pro bono opportunities and supporting pro bono initiative is good for any law firm.