Toronto, September 19, 2008 – LawFuel Legal Announcements – Baker & McKenzie LLP has partnered with the United Jewish Appeal (“UJA”) and Jewish Information Services of Toronto (“JIST”) to host a free clinic to assist Holocaust survivors in filing claims under the German Ghetto Work Payment Program (“GWPP”) on September 21 at the Lipa Green Community Centre, by appointment only, from 10:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The Baker & McKenzie Toronto volunteer team is led by Brian Segal, Randy Schwartz and Jonathan Garbutt.
The Firm has also partnered with the Bet Tzedek legal clinic of Los Angeles, CA, which has put together a package of materials and training guides, both in DVD and on the Internet, to help train lawyers and other volunteers on how to fill out the GWPP forms effectively and how to deal with the most common issues related to the program.
The GWPP is a program of the German Federal Government to provide compensation to people who performed work while they were in German-controlled Jewish Ghettos during the Nazi era. The program represents an effort by the German’s government to bridge a long-standing “gap” in the structure of its Holocaust reparations. To qualify under the program, the applicant survivor must have lived in a German-controlled Jewish Ghetto, worked while in the Ghetto and still be alive at the time of making the application. There are restrictions on the type of work performed due to German pension issues, which is why the assistance of a lawyer can be helpful to assist survivors with completing the form properly.
“Ensuring that Holocaust survivors in our community live their lives with dignity and respect is our priority and we are very grateful to Baker McKenzie for donating time to this humanitarian effort,” said Ted Sokolsky, President and CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
“This is an important initiative and one that we strongly felt we should take part in,” said Jim Holloway, Managing Partner of the Firm’s Toronto office. “Assisting Holocaust survivors to receive fair compensation may not erase the impact of this tragedy on the lives of so many people, but it is nevertheless an important step in addressing and rectifying some of the many injustices that occurred at that time.”
Angela Vigil, Baker & McKenzie’s North American Director of Pro Bono and Community Service, commented: “Efforts to help the survivors of this era gain compensation for their labour is extremely important to us. Baker & McKenzie provides pro bono and community service to individuals who otherwise could not afford access to the justice system, and we cannot think of better recipients of such service than Holocaust survivors.”