Public Interest + Pro Bono

Osgoode Hall

Working for the public good – pro bono publico – is an important element of any law practice. I also believe that voluntarism and social or civic engagement are important domains for the development of well-rounded neighbours, citizens, and human beings. At Magrath’s, public interest work includes the following:

International Human Rights: I have provided both research and litigation support to organizations and parties advocating on issues of international human rights and humanitarian law. Through Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada and Lawyers Against the War, I co-authored reports on the Illegality of Canada’s treatment of Omar Khadr and on Canada’s obligations under international law to arrest George Bush and Dick Cheney on arrival in Canada, and attended the 27th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (Geneva) as an accredited representative. I am currently providing pro bono litigation support to a falun gong practitioner now living in Canada in her claim against Bo Xilai, disgraced communist party boss, for his responsibility in the systematic persecution and torture of practitioners there.

Crown Liability: Sadly, fundamental human rights are sometimes under threat here at home as well as abroad. Cases against the Crown (government or government agencies) pose very particular challenges procedurally and legally, in addition to involving the ultimate deep-pocketed defendant who is almost completely unmoved by the costs of litigation both threatened and actual. While I do not accept either Tribunal or contingency-fee cases on a regular basis, in circumstances where there is both an important issue and genuine need, I have taken on pro bono or contingency clients in respect of proceedings before the Courts or on Judicial Review.

Arts: I maintain extensive connections in Toronto’s cultural and creative industries and have acted pro bono as both counsel and a Director for several Toronto-based artists or companies. I am also proud to take the stage annually in support of Nightwood Theatre, Canada’s pre-eminent women’s theatre company, in their annual fundraising “Lawyer Show“.