TORONTO, April 26 /CNW/ - Later this week, the Law Foundation of Ontario will present Toronto's Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic with the annual Guthrie Award. This award recognizes outstanding public service on the part of an individual or organization, in the form of contributions to access to justice or excellence within the legal profession.
The Barbra Schlifer Clinic is now in its 25th year of providing a range of legal and other services to female victims of violence. It was established by law school classmates of Barbra Teena Schlifer, who was violently murdered in Toronto 30 years ago this month while returning home from celebrating her call to the bar.
"The Schlifer Clinic's work is a compelling example of how access to justice can be put into day-to-day practice," says Law Foundation Chair Mark Sandler. "We're pleased to recognize an organization that already so fittingly commemorates one woman's life, and that has immeasurably improved the lives of so many others."
The clinic provides representation and other legal assistance to female victims of childhood abuse, sexual assault and partner assault. It has developed tools to assist clients who often face the daunting task of simultaneously navigating through what are in effect multiple legal systems, as they address family, immigration and other matters.
A further unique feature of the clinic's work is the combination of legal services with interpretation services (particularly valuable for its large immigrant client base) and a range of counseling and transitional support. This integrated offering has proven effective in enabling clients to address their legal needs and move forward with their lives. In 2009, the clinic assisted some 3,600 women.
The Guthrie Award further recognizes the clinic's outreach and educational efforts, many of which involve the legal profession. As its nominator stated: "Along with each woman who obtains assistance and is uplifted and strengthened by the clinic, the broader community is also educated and enlightened."
With funding support from the Law Foundation, for example, the clinic recently implemented a multi-year Legal Intersections project. This involved both public education and professional development, to foster more effective relationships between female victims of violence and their legal counsel.
Through this and other initiatives and partnerships, including contributions to policy development and the sharing of informational materials and other tools it has developed, the impact of the clinic's work has extended across Ontario.
"Not only are legal services at the core of the assistance we provide clients, but we're very focused on improving the effectiveness with which lawyers and the justice system respond to violence against women," says Schlifer Clinic Chair Gina Papageorgiou. "So this recognition from within the profession is very gratifying to us."
The Guthrie Award was established in honour of former Law Foundation Trustee and Chair H. Donald Guthrie. Previous recipients include Alan Borovoy, General Counsel Emeritus of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and former Attorney General and Chief Justice of Ontario the Hon. Roy McMurtry.
The Law Foundation of Ontario helps more Ontarians to understand the law and use it to improve their lives. It provides grants to diverse organizations working to enhance access to justice, and also supports the practice of public interest law and professional excellence.
Note to editors: The Guthrie Award presentation will take place on April 29, 2010, at 6:30 pm, at St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario. Attending media are asked to register in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE The Law Foundation of Ontario
For further information: For further information: Ayumi Bailly, Director, Policy and Programs, (647) 288-8072