Canada Legal News – Blakes Wins Law Firm Pro Bono Award

TORONTO AND VANCOUVER (September 22, 2008) – LawFuel – Legal Announcements – Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes), one of Canada’s leading business law firms, was awarded the Law Firm Pro Bono Award at the National Pro Bono Conference in Vancouver.

“Blakes is extremely committed to providing pro bono legal services across Canada and globally,” said Jim Christie, the Firm’s Chairman. “The Firm was among the first national law firms in Canada to adopt a formal policy that treats time spent on pro bono legal services as equivalent to billable hours. In fact, more than 100 Blakes lawyers across Canada have assisted on pro bono matters and Blakes has committed substantial financial resources to pro bono activities. It is with great pride that we accept this award.”

Blakes has a national committee to review and proactively seek out pro bono opportunities. In addition, Blakes conducts regular seminars to discuss pro bono projects and successes. While most of the Firm’s pro bono projects are within Canada, Blakes has also committed to several international projects. A few of the many pro bono projects in which Blakes is so proud to be involved include:

o AIDS-Free World and the Girl Child Network
Last week, three of our lawyers travelled to Botswana, Africa as part of our pro bono initiative, working with Stephen Lewis’s AIDS-Free World organization and the Girl Child Network. Along with lawyers from AIDS-Free World, they took statements from some of the women who were victims of widespread sexual violence during the recent Zimbabwe election campaign, including gang rape, beatings, torture and the threat of HIV infection.

The Blakes team is headed by litigation Partner Connie Reeve. “This has been an amazing, challenging and eye-opening experience thus far,” said Connie Reeve from Africa. “On the one hand, the women’s stories are heart-breaking. On the other, we admire their resilience and their willingness to speak out about what happened to them and their families.”
Connie Reeve is being assisted by Melanie Gaston, a litigation Associate from our Calgary office and Shashu Clacken, an Associate in the Blakes litigation practice in Toronto.

o 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. 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.

o Habitat for Humanity
Blakes partners with Habitat for Humanity providing pro bono legal assistance and, in addition, Blakes recently participated in a Habitat for Humanity Build Project on the corner of 16th Avenue and Deerfoot Trail in the northeast of Calgary, Alberta. In the past year, Blakes has participated in Habitat for Humanity Adopt-a-Day-Team-Builds in both Toronto and Calgary. These builds help in the construction of affordable housing for those in need. Blakes has now participated in six different build sites since 2004, contributing towards the completion of more than 75 new homes.

o Right to Play/Parkinson Society of British Columbia/Self-Help Clinics at Various Courts

Just a few of our many, many other projects. Blakes has young associates in our offices across the country who have gained invaluable experience working on our various projects and initiatives. Each of them has a unique story to tell. For more information on our other pro bono projects, please go to http://www.blakes.com/english/probono.html.
Blakes partners and associates involved in these 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.

About the Canadian Pro Bono Awards Ceremony in Vancouver
On the evening of September 18, 2008, Pro Bono Law Alberta, Pro Bono Law of British Columbia, Pro Bono Law Ontario and Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan hosted a dinner and awards event at the Stanley Park Pavilion in Vancouver. These awards are a national celebration of the dedication and commitment of the many lawyers who give their time freely to represent those who need but cannot afford legal assistance or qualify for legal aid.

About Blakes
Founded in 1856, Blakes has more than 550 lawyers and offices in Canada, the United States, Europe and China. Blakes was recently named “Canadian Law Firm of the Year” by Chambers and Partners, one of the world’s leading publishers of legal directories and trade periodicals. In October 2007, and for the fifth consecutive year, Blakes was the only law firm named one of “Canada’s Top 100 Employers” in Maclean’s newsmagazine. More information on Blakes is available by visiting the Firm’s Web site at www.blakes.com.

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