Pro Bono Work
Pro bono work and community engagement are embedded in our culture. As a leading law firm, we believe it is our responsibility to serve the public interest beyond the billable hour, and our pro bono work is one way we commit to giving back.
Our lawyers are encouraged to follow their passions and volunteer their time – and we carve out space to make this possible. We dedicate our resources to every pro bono matter, working together to make a difference for our clients and our communities.
Our Commitment in Action
- Protecting the Rights of Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex People
We represent Egale Canada, which intervened in the Centre for Gender Advocacy’s (CGA) case against the Government of Québec. The CGA sought to invalidate 11 provisions of the Civil Code of Québec on the grounds they discriminated against trans, non-binary and intersex people and their families. The laws that were challenged related to the registration of births and deaths, changes of name and sex designation, and the issuance of birth and death certificates.
In a major victory for human rights, on January 28, 2021, the Superior Court of Québec declared six provisions of the Code unconstitutional. It is currently before the Québec Court of Appeal. This case is the broadest and most wide-reaching constitutional case in Canada to date concerning trans, intersex and non-binary people.
Davies also advised and represented Egale Canada in making a submission to the Department of Finance as part of its Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of the budget in 2023. Egale’s submission calls attention to gaps and unnecessary limitations in the Government’s initiative to expand the Medical Expense Tax Credit to include surrogacy-related expenses and urges the Government to revise the proposed legislation to eliminate these restrictions.
- Combatting and Preventing Abuse in Canadian Sports
We represented four women who were among the victims of former ski coach Bertrand Charest, who in June 2017 was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for charges related to the sexual assault of young athletes.
Our clients led an initiative with B2ten, an organization dedicated to supporting Canadian amateur athletes, to make sports safer in Canada. We advised and supported our clients through their decision to disclose their identities, speak up and demand changes by sports organizations and governments.
As a result of this case, the federal government unveiled new policies requiring all national sport bodies to immediately disclose any allegations of abuse, harassment or discrimination to the sports minister’s office and to make provisions for an independent third party to investigate allegations of abuse or harassment. In addition, Québec’s alpine skiing federation now conducts criminal record checks for training and supervisory personnel.
- Challenging a Legislative Ban on Religious Symbols
Davies represents the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) and one of its directors, Amrit Kaur, in their challenge to Québec’s Act respecting the laicity of the State, commonly known as Bill 21. The WSO and Ms. Kaur challenged the constitutionality of Bill 21, including the provisions that ban the wearing of religious symbols by certain public-sector employees. On April 20, 2021, the Superior Court of Québec struck down certain provisions of Bill 21, but did not strike down the law entirely.
The WSO is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals.
- Helping Tech Startups Navigate Ontario Securities Laws
As a participant in the Ontario Securities Commission’s Office of Economic Growth and Innovation’s beta directory, we help early and growth-stage technology businesses navigate Ontario’s securities laws by providing advice regarding their securities law compliance, preparation of corporate structures and capital-raising, etc.
As a leader in innovation and emerging industries, we support the directory’s objective to reduce barriers for Ontario’s innovative businesses and build a stronger innovation ecosystem.
Serving the Public Interest
- A Selection of Our Pro Bono Matters
- We have a long-standing mandate with the Canadian Women’s National Team regarding gender pay equity issues vis-à-vis its governing body, Canada Soccer. Our work has included helping establish a players’ association for the team, working with team members to advance the business case for professional women’s soccer opportunities in Canada, and negotiating with Canada Soccer on behalf of the players regarding their compensation and playing conditions through regular collective bargaining agreements.
- We are representing five members of Canada’s national artistic swimming teams (formerly called synchronized swimming) in a class action lawsuit brought against their national sporting organization, Canada Artistic Swimming, for failing to protect them and their fellow athletes from psychological abuse, neglect and harassment.
- We are advising a Montréal synagogue, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, in relation to a racist attack that took place in January 2021.
- We advised on the merger between Camp Oochigeas and Camp Trillium in September 2019, which brought together two organizations providing camp programs for thousands of children and families affected by childhood cancer.
- We provided legal and strategic advice in connection with the signing of a contract between PROCURE, a Québec charity dedicated to the fight against prostate cancer, and The Cancer Genome Atlas program, a partnership in the United States between the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, to molecularly characterize over 20,000 primary cancer and matched normal samples spanning 33 cancer types. The data generated from this project, one of the largest of its kind in the world, are used to improve the ability to diagnose, treat and prevent cancer.
- For nearly 10 years, our Tax group has provided a variety of legal services to Unity, a national charity that uses hip-hop art forms to promote resilience and well-being among underserved youth, creating healthier communities.
- Historical Groundbreaking Pro Bono Files
- After three years of negotiations, in October 2020, Davies partner Lucien Bouchard helped secure an agreement between the Québec government and the Barreau du Québec to raise legal aid fees and ultimately improve access to justice.
- We acted for successful plaintiff Stephanie Bruker before the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark case of Bruker v Marcovitz. Damages were awarded for the defendant’s failure to respect a contractual promise to provide a Jewish divorce.
- We represented the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils before the Supreme Court of Canada in Suresh v Canada in a Charter challenge to the Immigration Act. The Court ruled that the appellant, a refugee from Sri Lanka accused of terrorism, should not be deported to a country where he would face substantial risk of torture because it violated his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Our Partner Organizations
Some of the organizations we have worked with on a pro bono basis in the past or continue to work with today include Camp Oochigeas & Camp Trillium; Egale Canada; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; Montréal inc.; Ontario Securities Commission; and PROCURE.
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