Pro Bono Students Canada

CCLA General Counsel Keynotes PBSC Montréal Symposium!

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PBSC’s three Montréal chapters – McGill, the University of Montréal and the University of Québec at Montréal – came together to host a symposium on January 12, 2012. The event featured a keynote speech by Canadian Civil Liberties Association General Counsel, Nathalie Des Rosiers, on “la société civile et l’accès à la justice”: Civil Society and Access to Justice.  Hosted by PBSC’s National Law Firm Partner, McCarthy Tétrault, the evening was a huge success, with 60 PBSC volunteers braving a massive snowstorm to make their way to the downtown offices of McCarthys for the event.

Back row: Steeves Bujold (McCarthy Tétrault), Kim Stanton (PBSC National), Nathalie Des Rosiers (CCLA), Léna Taylor (McCarthy Tétrault), Martin Gallié (PBSC On-site Supervisor, UQAM), Audrey-Paule Ledoux (PBSC UQAM), Frédéric Grenon-Assal (Sherbrooke); Front row: Émilie Deschênes (PBSC Laval); Amanda Gibeault (PBSC McGill), Leslie Ning (PBSC National), Nikki Gershbain (PBSC National), Marie-France Comtois and Zahra Abbas (PBSC UdeM), Elyse Pépin-Laporte (PBSC UQAM)

PBSC’s incredible Montréal Program Coordinators kicked things off and welcomed the audience.  Next up we heard from Steeves Bujold, member of McCarthy Tétrault’s Pro Bono Committee and a Board Member at Pro Bono Québec, who praised the volunteers present for their pro bono contributions, and provided concrete suggestions for students interested in working at a law firm that encourages pro bono activitiesMcCarthy Tétrault lawyer Simon Chamberland echoed these remarks, adding that pro bono activity is not only good for the firm, but an obligation of every lawyer as a member of the legal profession.  He then spoke to the students about his own work with the CCLA on the Kazemi case, about Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi who died in Iranian custody.  PBSC National Francophone Coordinator Leslie Ning had the honour of introducing Nathalie Des Rosiers, and spoke about the longstanding partnership between PBSC and the CCLA and our important work on the Rights Watch Blog.  Ms. Des Rosiers presented a lively and riveting speech about our unique responsibility as lawyers to protect civil liberties, including by speaking “to the powerful, the powerless and the indifferent”.  PBSC’s Program Manager, Kim Stanton, closed the event by thanking the audience and the speakers, and particularly our Program Coordinators for their dedication, McCarthy Tétrault for hosting the evening, and for their ongoing support of PBSC’s program from coast to coast.

A cocktail reception followed, at which students and speakers mingled well into the evening. PBSC students left the event encouraged and inspired by Ms. DesRosier’s eloquent message and practical examples of the many and varied ways in which legal training can contribute to increasing access to justice in Canada.