Innovative Family Legal Health Program Wins Award

TORONTO, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - When staff at Torkin Manes LLP are looking for lawyers Duncan Embury or Lisa Corrente and they're told, "Oh, they're at the hospital", no one gets alarmed. Duncan and Lisa are known throughout the firm for their work heading Torkin Manes' involvement with The Family Legal Health Program at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

Run by Pro Bono Law Ontario in partnership with SickKids, the program is a free legal service for patients and families referred by clinical staff. Through an on-site triage lawyer, the program offers legal assistance with issues that affect a child's health or a family's capacity to care for their sick child. The triage lawyer can call on outside law firms for matters beyond quick advice or filling out forms. Jointly with McMillan LLP, Torkin Manes has been involved from the outset, helping Pro Bono Law Ontario and the hospital set up the arrangement and working with clinical staff at the hospital. Now their efforts have been recognized with a Lexpert 2010 Zenith Pro Bono Award, which they will receive at a gala celebration in Toronto on September 28, 2010.

Since Torkin Manes became involved with the program, more than a dozen of its lawyers have been involved with a wide range of cases, including:

  • Obtaining continuation of long-term disability benefits for the mother of a severely ill child, allowing the mother to remain at her daughter's bedside
  • Persuading an employer to change its workplace practices by which a child's illness was being exacerbated through airborne pollutants brought home on her father's clothing
  • Assisting a mother in obtaining death benefits following the tragic death of her daughter
  • Advising a disabled employee (who continues to receive treatment as an adult patient) on improvements to be made in her workplace so that she may continue to perform her job
  • Representing a family dealing with living conditions that are adversely affecting their ill child

But Torkin Manes' involvement isn't restricted to the pro bono cases it handles. Lisa Corrente, a partner in the firm's Labour Relations & Employment Group, says her work on the program's Systemic Issues Working Group is very rewarding: "Helping health practitioners identify legal problems and advocate for legal change in fields that affect family health—where else would you be able to do that?" SickKids clinical staff learns to identify legal issues early, so such issues can be resolved before they have an impact on a family's capacity to manage their child's care. The Family Legal Health Program also uses legal advocacy to effect change in public policy and legislation on behalf of its patient population.

About Torkin Manes LLP

Torkin Manes is a full-service law firm based in Toronto. Among its many practice areas are Corporate/ Commercial, Civil & Commercial Litigation, Labour Relations & Employment Law, Health Law, Family Law, Personal Injury, Commercial Real Estate, and Insurance Defence.


For further information: For further information:

Margaret McCaffery   
416 863 1188 x 240 OR: 416 782 7828  
 Lisa Corrente   
416 643 8800  
Duncan Embury
416 777 5429

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