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BMO wins two Canadian Law Awards

October 8, 2020 | Recognition

At BMO, we’re driven to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, and we strive to use our resources and expertise to help our customers and individuals in the communities we serve.

This commitment was recently recognized at the Canadian Law Awards, where BMO won gold for Banking & Financial Institutions Law Department of the Year and Pro Bono Initiative of the Year.

“Behind both these wins is a team of innovative and dedicated professionals who care deeply about bringing the best to our customers and in helping vulnerable individuals in our communities who need legal support but because of their limited resources find themselves shut out from aid,” said Simon Fish, BMO’s General Counsel. “I couldn’t be prouder of the LRC team and what these honours represent.”

Providing justice for all through our pro bono initiatives

The United Nations has identified the access to justice crisis as a threat to the well-being, advancement and safety of people and communities worldwide, with the cost of legal advice and representation being one of the major obstacles. BMO is a signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono challenge and each year, hundreds of BMO volunteers spend thousands of hours working to close the justice gap through our pro bono activities in Canada, including:

  • Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice hotline: 43 volunteers provided free legal advice on civil litigation, employment, housing and consumer issues to low-income Ontarians.
  • Education program: 10 volunteers advocated for families seeking support in addressing school-related challenges, such as bullying and discipline matters. Last year, five cases had successful placement and representation before the Board of Education.
  • Power of Attorney clinic: 30 volunteers assisted with the creation and execution of powers of attorney and advance care directive for personal care or property for 62 patients in need at local healthcare facilities.
  • Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities project: 10 volunteers assisted parents of patients at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with their legal appeals for government benefits for children with severe disabilities.

In the U.S., BMO participates in programs in New York, Dallas and Chicago. Since we began representing asylum seekers, we’ve won asylum cases for members of the LGTBQ community originally from Mexico, Nigeria and Malawi who suffered brutal abuses in their countries.

Call to action

In November, BMO’s General Counsel brought together law firms and general counsels from Canada’s leading companies to raise awareness of the access to justice crisis. At the event, BMO committed to review our external law firms’ pro bono support when deciding future retainers and called for companies to significantly increase law firm’s funding of pro bono activities and create formalized programs in-house to make these activities sustainable.

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