Blakes recognized for great work – outside of the workplace
TORONTO (October 9, 2007) – LAWFUEL – The Law Firm Newswire – For the fifth consecutive year, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes), one of Canada’s leading business law firms, has been named one of “Canada’s Top 100 Employers” and is the only law firm on the list. Blakes has also been named as one of “Greater Toronto’s Top 50 Employers” for the second year in a row.
“Blakes is committed to investing in our staff and professionals,” said Jim Christie, the Firm’s Chairman. “We are continually updating our training opportunities, recognizing achievement and creating a positive work environment. It is with great pride that we accept this award for the fifth consecutive year.”
While support for work-life balance and excellent employee benefits are critical to being a great employer, it is the encouragement and recognition of its people that make Blakes stand out from the rest.
Annually, Blakes holds a national training week for its associate lawyers. The Firm also has an extensive professional development program for all of its lawyers that includes lectures on substantive law, business trends, human rights and current political issues. Blakes is also committed to equity and diversity. The Firm publishes the Blakes Bulletin on Equity & Diversity and hosts a series of seminars to promote constructive discussion and reinforce equity and diversity as a core Blakes value.
In addition, Blakes was one of the first major Canadian law firms to adopt a formal policy recognizing pro bono and other public service work as a professional responsibility. Now, over 100 Blakes lawyers across Canada work on pro bono matters and the Firm has committed time worth millions of dollars to these activities.
A few of the many pro bono projects in which Blakes is so proud to be involved include:
Small Claims, Big Experience
The Pro Bono Law Ontario’s Duty Counsel Project in Toronto and a similar project in British Columbia offer free legal advice and representation to individuals with a low household income. Blakes associates, articling students and summer students participate in these projects learning to think quickly on their feet and gaining valuable courtroom experience they would not otherwise get at this stage in their careers.
Liberia’s Quest for Justice
After decades of civil war and strife, Blakes is among those now helping to resurrect the rule of law and assist the current government meet the promise of equal justice for all. Working with the U.S.-based International Senior Lawyers Project, Blakes Partner Jim Dube has been travelling to Liberia to assist the government pursue corrupt officials from a previous regime, and helping to rebuild the justice system. Jim also participated in trial preparation and advocacy skills training for regional prosecutors and has helped draft legislation to ban all firearms in Liberia.
Evergreen Brick Works Project
Evergreen was granted stewardship of the Don Valley Brick Works site by the City of Toronto in 2004, with the goal of transforming its deteriorating collection of buildings into a thriving environmentally based community centre. The project will feature a weekly organic farmers’ market, restaurants, skating rinks, a 110,000-square-foot garden and nursery showcasing native plant species, and various arts and educational programs. Blakes acts as legal counsel to Evergreen. Helping these “social entrepreneurs” is not just an excellent opportunity for public good, but also a valuable tool for Blakes students and young lawyers.
Calgary Legal Guidance
Blakes has played a very prominent role in this unique clinic which provides legal advice and direction to low-income Calgarians. More than a dozen Blakes lawyers volunteer to provide advice on business, family, landlord and tenant, and criminal law matters. A number of Blakes lawyers have also served on the executive of the organization.
Blakes lawyers and associates involved in these wonderful projects are available to talk about them and how the Firm has given each of them the opportunity to pursue their passions and make a contribution far from the workplace. To arrange an interview, please contact Celia Bobkin, Manager of Media & Public Relations, 416‑863‑5806.
In addition, members of the Firm spend countless hours as volunteer leaders and participants in community and not-for-profit organizations. All of these experiences benefit others and provide professional development and satisfaction outside of the scope of usual work activities, growing the skills and expertise that are so valuable to the Firm’s clients.
To mark its 150th Anniversary in 2006, Blakes launched an annual award program to recognize the extraordinary volunteer work undertaken by its employees. The “Volunteer of Distinction Award” honours three members of Blakes each year for their outstanding community service or charitable work. Recipients are recognized with a $10,000 donation to the charitable organization supported by each of them.
About the Top 100
The list of Top 100 employers is compiled annually by Mediacorp Inc., Canada’s largest publisher of employment periodicals. Following an initial review of over 72,000 Canadian employers, 14,000 companies were invited to participate and over 1,800 started the extensive application process. Organizations are graded on eight key areas – physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits, vacation and time off; employee communications; skills training and development and. community involvement. From accounting firms to police forces, the employers chosen this year are leaders in their industry in attracting and retaining quality employees.
Founded in 1856, Blakes is one of Canada’s leading business law firms. The Firm has more than 500 lawyers and nine offices in Canada, the United States, Europe and China. More information on Blakes is available by visiting the Firm’s Web site at www.blakes.com.