Pro Bono Students Canada

Tax Court of Canada Project – Dentons (Formerly FMC Law)


From Left to Right: Denise Cooney (student); Timothy Fitzsimmons (FMC); Doug Stewart (FMC); Shannon McDunnough (student); Angelo Gentile (FMC); David Spiro (FMC); Nikki Gershbain (PBSC); Shaira Nanji (student); Jared Mackey (student); Richard Li (student); Evelyn Dormer (student)

Note: this article originally appeared on the Denton’s website.

Dentons (formerly Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP) has partnered with Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) to develop a pilot project for law students to represent, on a pro bono basis, low-income individuals before the Tax Court of Canada (TCC). The first law firm initiative of its kind in Canada, the pilot project enables PBSC law students, under the supervision of Dentons tax litigators, to gain practical experience representing individual taxpayers before the TCC. It is on the cutting-edge of the development and delivery of legal services to this particularly vulnerable, yet oft-forgotten, group of self-represented litigants.

PBSC and Dentons have piloted the project at the University of Toronto chapter of PBSC. The initial group of six students were recruited in the spring of 2010, carefully selected after a competitive application process.

Dentons has committed three supervising tax litigation lawyers, including an award-winning senior tax litigation lawyer at the firm, as well as the former Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada, Donald G.H. Bowman, Q.C., to provide student group training and direct file supervision. Dentons is also providing more general training on advocacy and professional responsibility, including confidentiality, client counselling, strategy and file management.

Recently, Dentons and PBSC were recognized for their commitment to this project as winners of the highest level Lexpert Zenith Award for Law Firm Contribution to Legal Education. The Lexpert Zenith Awards celebrate Canadian legal professionals’ commitment and dedication to corporate and law firm social responsibility.

The pilot project was developed at the suggestion of the current Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada, in response to the significant number of unrepresented appellants appearing before the Court. Dentons and PBSC hope to expand the project to other Canadian cities and law schools in coming years.