News & Events
Bay Street law firm extends helping hand to high-risk neighbourhood
From a Globe and Mail article:
No matter how you slice it -- physically or metaphorically -- it's an awfully long way from Bay Street to the eastern edges of Scarborough. In the city's high-risk neighbourhoods, such as Kingston-Galloway, access to a good lawyer, and the leverage that comes with it, can be as remote as First Canadian Place.
But one of Canada's big-gun law firms is making a unique proposition to this neighbourhood's residents: Walk in and get a bona fide Bay Street lawyer -- for free. With that lawyer comes access to the many boardrooms, tribunal rooms, and courtrooms that would otherwise be out of reach.
The project, which comes through an innovative outreach centre called the East Scarborough Storefront, connects lawyers from Heenan Blaikie with locals who are left in limbo by the province's embattled legal-aid system.
"If they make too much money for legal aid, but still not nearly enough to go out and retain a lawyer, we don't feel that they should be cut off from access to our justice system," says Ryan Teschner, a 29-year-old associate at Heenan Blaikie who co-founded the project with a colleague, Trevor Guy. Starting in a week's time, local residents -- and they have to be local -- will be able to walk into the East Scarborough Storefront, where a caseworker will interview them, screen their case and, if they fit, connect them with a lawyer. After that point, they enter into a full lawyer-client relationship, in which the lawyers promise to see the case through to the end.