Charitable Efforts 'Hugely Important' for Legal Firms

John Macfarlane

Dec 15, 2010

By Jim Middlemiss, Financial Post

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Canadian law firms provide millions of dollars in aid to charities each year, either through fundraising efforts or by providing volunteer hours and free legal services.

For example, in this year's Legal Post Literacy Challenge, 10 law firms [including Osler] raised $19,500, boosting the three-year total to more than $100,000.

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In many cases, efforts are spontaneous and arise with the challenge of the day. However, many law firms are now organizing their charitable efforts into a cohesive strategy on how they'll help the communities in which they work.

Lawyers say it's part of an effort to give back and meet the desire by staff to have a meaningful experience beyond simply work.

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Charitable efforts can also build team spirit. For nine years now, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt has topped the list of Toronto law firms that contribute to the annual United Way drive. In each of the last three years, the firm nationally has donated more than $1-million.  John Macfarlane, a partner at Osler and the Leadership Chair of Osler's United Way (Toronto) campaign, says: "It's something I take extraordinary pride in. It's the single, most unifying thing we do as a firm."