illustration of raised hands with a heart in the middle of each

SPILL: How do lawyers give back?

  • November 30, 2022

As we approach the end of the year – often considered ‘the season of giving’ – we asked members to share one way they enjoy giving back, whether to their local or professional communities or to the broader public.

For the up-and-coming generation

“Youth who age out of care describe the process as akin to falling off a cliff. They are dropped into the world with few supports and many struggle to find their way. Indigenous youth are dramatically overrepresented in this group. For the past year or so, I have had the privilege of working with a group of Indigenous lawyers to gather high-quality legal information and links to social supports to share with Toronto youth as they age out of care. We are now planning a ceremony to celebrate the courageous journeys these young people take. The ceremony will be a celebration and also a gathering that brings young people together with service providers and community members to express our support. Our project is called ‘Welcoming courageous young journeys’ and it is partially funded by the Law Foundation. We named it last fall with the help of Elder Blu.” - Kirsti Mathers McHenry, Mathers McHenry & Co., OBA SOGIC newsletter editor

“In addition to serving on the executive of various OBA sections, I enjoy giving back to my community by being a Young Alumni Ambassador for York University, where I attended for my undergraduate degree and law degree. In that role, I act as an advisor, helping to shape young alumni programming for recent graduates; participate in events and programs in leadership roles, such as panelist, emcee, guest speaker, or lead networker; and participate on committees and working groups as a representative of the young alumni community. Being able to encourage young alumni like myself to stay connected with the university, connect with their fellow alumni and the general public, and promote exciting initiatives does not fail to put a smile on my face – and, hopefully, theirs, too.” - Crystal Heidari, Burke and Co., OBA Family Law newsletter editor

“I enjoy giving back to my community by mentoring students and new lawyers, and by also sitting on various boards. I think it is important to not only give back to our professional community, but also to the broader community, if we have the time and resources to do so.” – Mana Khami, Harrison Pensa LLP,  OBA Board Southwest Region representative

For the knowledge-seekers

“Even while I was doing my undergraduate degree, I was taught the value of paying it forward in the legal profession. Specifically, the value of mentorship. As an established lawyer with my own practice, I make it a point to create as many volunteer opportunities as I can to ensure that people who did not have any connections growing up – such as myself – have opportunities to learn, grow, and gain experiences early on in their journey into the legal profession.” - Dan Fridmar, Fridmar Professional Corporation, OBA Construction and Infrastructure Law newsletter editor

“For many years, I have enjoyed volunteering with professional organizations. It gives me the chance to meet new people, expand my own knowledge, and share learning and insights with others.” - Laura Pettigrew, Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, OBA Child and Youth Law Section newsletter editor

For the local community

“When we lived in Toronto, I would cook a full Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and deliver it to the nearest shelter, and then would go to Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day we had a sort of open house. People who wanted to celebrate but did not have anyone to celebrate it with, would be referred to us to come to our place to celebrate Christmas. I would prepare breakfast, before anyone arrived. We would not have breakfast or open gifts until everyone was there. Every person would have a gift under the tree and one in a stocking. They would stay for the entire day and would spend their day as they would at home. They would then all leave after supper, desert, etc. and that would conclude our Christmas.” - Christine Roth, Roth Law Offices, OBA Board Central East Region representative

“As someone who works in a charity that serves other charities, I'm so thankful for charities and their volunteers, for whom giving back is a year-round consideration. One way I enjoy giving back to our community is through our local church. It serves as a hub of generous giving where we give both time and resources toward food markets, clothing drives, meal service, and more!” - Deina Warren, Canadian Centre for Christian Charities, OBA Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law Section newsletter editor

For those in need of legal advice

“I volunteer four times a year at PBO's Free Legal Advice Hotline. It’s a great way to help people who may not otherwise be able to hire their own lawyer. Each time I go, I feel like I’ve made a real and positive difference in someone’s life.” - Adrienne Boudreau, Sotos LLP, OBA Franchise Law Section newsletter editor

“I enjoyed volunteering my time at the community legal clinic in my area during the pandemic. DCLC is a charitable, not-for-profit community-based legal clinic that provides free legal assistance to people with low income. They offer support in the areas of Tenant Rights, Human Rights, Employment Law, Social Assistance and Wills & Estates. Volunteering is a good way to participate in your local community, learn about current issues, use your life and educational skills for a positive purpose, and stay connected with your neighbours.” - Paula Poniatowska, Canadian Corporate Counsel Association – Ontario Chapter, member-at-large

For the knee high

“One of the ways I like to give back is by sorting donated toys at the food bank to give to the kids for the holidays.” - Lisa Laredo, Laredo Law Professional Corporation, OBA Sole, Small Firm and General Practice Section newsletter editor

“The local Toys for Tots is a great campaign to deliver toys to underprivileged children in Thunder Bay for Christmas.” - George Joseph, OBA Board Northwest Region representative

For all of the above

“I enjoy giving my time when I can  – I contribute to the Elder Law Section of the OBA and I am on the board of the Kiwanis Club of Toronto.  I enjoy giving my time to community activities, be it holiday shopping for Boys & Girls Club kids or helping out at a holiday dinner for a community organization called Step Stones for Youth. I enjoy including one or more of my three boys in these activities as well.” - Jonathan Morse, BMO Wealth Management, OBA Elder Law Section newsletter editor