Pro Bono Students Canada

PBSC National Firm Partner McCarthy Tétrault Shows Support for Pro Bono

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Amanda Laren, McCarthy Tétrault Intranet, April 3 2014

Gail Wong, Director of Student Programs, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Canada, and Matthew Kelleher, Partner, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Gail Wong, Director of Student Programs, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Canada, and Matthew Kelleher, Partner, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

On Thursday March 13, 2014, we were honoured to host the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin, as the keynote speaker at a reception to celebrate the amazing Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) volunteers in our Toronto office. More than 100 people attended the event, including University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School students, PBSC supervising lawyers and PBSC staff.

PBSC is a law student organization that provides legal services without charge to organizations and individuals in need in Canada. As PBSC’s sole National Law Firm Partner, McCarthy Tétrault supports many PBSC initiatives, including the PBSC Public Interest Internship. Every year, the Firm selects a group of University of Toronto and Osgoode first year law student volunteers to work with McCarthy Tétrault lawyers on Firm pro bono files. Kelly Peters organizes the Internship, along with volunteer lawyer supervisors Keary Grace, Matt Kelleher, Caroline Zayid, Katherine Booth and Michael Rosenberg, and articling student mentors to the interns, Ryann Atkins, Diego Beltran and Amanda Laren.

Pro bono opportunities like the PBSC Public Interest Internship are part of an industry trend to increase practical learning opportunities in law schools. This trend was a main theme of the Chief Justice’s keynote address. In her remarks, the Chief Justice noted that while there was always pro bono legal work, and an interest in pro bono legal work, the availability of pro bono opportunities for law students has grown considerably over the years.

When the Chief Justice began law school, she said there was no such thing as a legal clinic or the chance to meet and talk to people in need of legal advice. Time in law school was spent focused on courses and theory. Speaking about pro bono work, she said, “I think it helps students see the law profession in a different way. It’s not merely about learning certain skills and being able to go out and make a living – it’s about serving the public, and helping men, women and children get through the problems they face in life.”

The Chief Justice also noted, “I remember as an articling student getting files which would come in on a pro bono basis. They were some of the best I had.” Gail Wong, Director of Student Programs (Ontario), welcomed the increase in student pro bono involvement. “Our experience has been that law students are increasingly seeking pro bono opportunities to develop their skills,” said Gail. “The Firm is proud to support such opportunities at the law school level to help students develop legal and practice skills and to support access to justice. From a recruitment perspective, we have also found that student leaders in PBSC are often the types of students that we wish to recruit because of their demonstrated self-initiative, commitment to client service and desire to lead.”

McCarthy Tétrault has been a key supporter of these student opportunities through its involvement with PBSC. Matt Kelleher, who is actively involved with PBSC, said, “McCarthy Tétrault is the only National Law Firm Partner of PBSC. Our partnership with PBSC began in 2004 and is active in all regions of Canada where we have offices. The close collaboration between our lawyers and the smart, dedicated volunteers at PBSC allows us to have a significant impact on important pro bono initiatives across the country.”

Pro bono work has provided worthy individuals with access to justice while giving law students opportunities to develop vital legal skills early on in their careers. McCarthy Tétrault strongly supports this initiative and looks forward to continuing its successful partnership with PBSC.

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