The OBA recognizes and supports those members who lend their skills and expertise to providing pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations in need. Please take a moment to learn more about OBA members who give back to the community and help further the cause of justice in Ontario. Want to be profiled? Contact the OBA Pro Bono Committee.
Highlights of my pro bono work:
"Early in my career as a sole practitioner, I was faced with a decision involving a prospective client requiring timely and time-consuming complex legal advice. The client, a non-profit French-language daycare facility, was without the means to pay my fees. However, they had been wrongfully sued for breach of contract relating to a contractual dispute involving a separate daycare business that had previously occupied their space. In fact, the defendant daycare had received a default judgment against them, in English, which made the process and documentation difficult for them to comprehend. Put simply, they were overwhelmed.
Despite mounting overhead expenses and the lack of support staff, I threw myself into this pro bono file. Many action items were required at the outset, including instituting French language proceedings, bringing a motion to set aside the default judgment, and filing a proper statement of defence. Later on, I was able to assist the daycare in resolving the matter at a settlement conference largely as a result of having probed the parties’ mutual interests. The resolution was so successful that the parties became business partners and the opposing side wished to retain me on other matters."
Why I do this pro bono work:
"I had just made the difficult decision to pursue sole practice over the job security offered by Bay Street and was just beginning to build my own firm. Acting for the daycare on a pro bono basis would be a difficult option. But I felt that despite the personal challenges I faced, I had to take the file – this was a pillar in the francophone community and was precisely the type of cause I had intended to help when I began law school.
Above all, the key stage in my decision making process was when I reminded myself that I had started my own practice to have the independence to be the kind of lawyer I wanted to be, one that placed helping clients above generating revenue and prestige."
One comment to encourage others:
"The experience of taking on such a large pro bono matter was extremely rewarding. It re-invigorated my desire to assist underprivileged litigants and the francophone community, and above all, it allowed a valuable daycare to achieve a very positive result. Every day, when I look upon the painting gifted to me by the daycare for the work I did, I am reminded of the importance of giving a voice to those who risk not having one, and the importance of access to justice."