Lawyers flip their wigs today

Dentons Global Chief Operating Officer Orest Szot, Dentons Canada CEO Chris Pinnington, and Dentons Toronto Managing Partner Mike Kaplan

Dentons Global Chief Operating Officer Orest Szot, Dentons Canada CEO Chris Pinnington, and Dentons Toronto Managing Partner Mike Kaplan

Lawyers are “flipping their wigs” today to raise awareness for charity. Flip Your Wig for Justice is an awareness and pledge-based fundraising campaign in support of access to justice in Ontario. Members of the justice community and general public in Ontario are wearing traditional judicial or wacky wigs to raise awareness and support seven Ontario-based non-profit organizations, including:

  • Association in the Defense of the Wrongly Convicted
  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Community Legal Education Ontario
  • The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
  • Ontario Justice Education Network
  • Pro Bono Law Ontario
  • Pro Bono Students Canada

Dentons Canada LLP (pictured) is one of the law firms participating in the charity event. Lexpert spoke with Barbara Grossman, a partner at Dentons and chair of the firm’s Ontario Pro Bono Committee, about why the firm got involved.

We actually do pro bono work through and with three of the seven access to justice pro bono organizations that are part of the campaign…It was actually the executive director of Pro Bono Students Canada who we had this very close relationship with dating back more than three years ago, who reached out to me and asked if Dentons would support the campaign by taking on one of the various roles that they had outlined for supporters and we agreed to do that and to essentially run the campaign, to try and fundraise for them and raise awareness of the campaign through our two Ontario offices (in Toronto and Ottawa). Both of those offices are participating. Essentially we have been running campaigns in both offices with a view to both fundraising and increasing awareness.

This isn’t the first time we have jumped on board and it certainly won’t be the last. We see the urgent need through our involvement in pro bono work generally and our pro bono work is pretty much focussed on co-operative efforts with these access to justice pro bono organizations.

2014 is the first year for Flip Your Wig for Justice and is endorsed by the Law Foundation of Ontario, Law Society Treasurer Thomas Conway, Deans of all Ontario Law Schools, Humber College’s School of Community Services and law firms including Dentons and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Conway told Lexpert the non-profit organizations that will benefit are

… well known to us and we support their activities, and the campaign coincides with a recent decision of convocation last Thursday to make access to justice a major and significant part of the business of the law society. We have recognized for a number of years that there is an increasing gap between those members of the public that require legal services and those that can actually afford them.

Conway stressed the importance of addressing access to justice for everyone in the legal community:

From the point of view of the law society, we often talk about our profession being self regulating, and indeed we are, and it is a privilege that we have, that we are able to govern our own affairs. But we are only going to be permitted to do that as long as the public continues to be satisfied that we, as a profession, are contributing to the overall ability of Ontarians to have their legal problems addressed in a timely fashion, and in a fashion that they can afford. If people lose confidence in the (1) the justice system and (2) the legal profession, we are all in a very difficult situation, whether we work for a large firm doing M&A transactions or work in a small firm assisting mom & pop businesses or small [and] medium businesses.

Ontarians can visit flipyourwigforjustice.ca to donate or sponsor a Flip Your Wig for Justice participant or team.

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