Swadron Associates begins relationship with Pro Bono Law Ontario

June 1, 2009 - Swadron Associates and Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO) have recently established an arrangement whereby Matthew Cohen will fulfill the responsibilities of the managing lawyer of Law Help Ontario (LHO).   PBLO is a charitable organization that promotes access to justice in Ontario by creating and promoting opportunities for lawyers to provide pro bono (free) legal services to persons of limited means.  LHO is a project of PBLO that provides pro bono legal services to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer and are unrepresented in the civil justice system.   

LHO’s services respond to an urgent and increasing need to provide low-income Ontarians who do not qualify for Legal Aid with access to legal assistance.  Though in its early stages, the value of its work has already been recognized from significant quarters.  In November 2007, the Osborne Report on Civil Justice Reform specifically recommended that PBLO’s efforts to develop a civil law self-help pilot project in Toronto should continue to be assisted by the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Task Force.  Since that time, LHO has opened two self-help centres in Toronto, one at the Small Claims Court and the other at the 393 University Avenue courthouse.  More recently, PBLO received the prestigious Emil Gumpert award, given by the American College of Trial Lawyers to recognize programs, public or private, whose principal purpose is to maintain and improve the administration of justice.  As the first Canadian recipient of the award, PBLO intends to use the award’s monetary component to open another self-help centre in Ottawa.

Swadron Associates is thrilled to support and assist with PBLO’s endeavours.  With a practice dedicated to social justice and a largely low-income clientele, the firm is privileged and well-positioned to help PBLO find ways to improve the delivery of legal services in Ontario, especially to its most vulnerable citizens.  Mr. Cohen takes particular pleasure in continuing a relationship with PBLO that began when he worked on pro bono projects as an associate with Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.  “I was lucky to begin my career with a firm that supported PBLO in its infancy and now embrace the chance to build the capacity of this important organization”, he said. Lynn Burns, PBLO’s executive director, added that “we are pleased to be working with a firm that has such a longstanding commitment to access to justice issues.  We believe that Swadron Associates’ support will help us fulfill our commitment to provide high quality legal services to those in need.”