Bay St. firm offers legal aid to local residents

Bay Street law firm Heenan-Blaikie will be offering free legal advice for Kingston- Galloway and Orton Park residents.

The firm has collaborated with the East Scarborough Storefront to give pro bono aid to residents who’s income is too high to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to pay for it themselves.

“This has been two years in the making,” said Anne Gloger, manager of the Storefront which offers various resources to the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park community.

Heenan-Blaikie specializes in business law, labour and employment, taxation and litigation. They are the first Bay Street firm to offer all of their legal services to the community at no charge.

A total of 107 lawyers will be helping residents obtain affordable legal representation. According to Pro Bono Law Ontario, anyone making more than $18,000 a year does not qualify for aid. However, residents will be screened by the East Scarborough Storefront and referred to Heenan-Blaikie, and the aid will assist individuals who make up to double that amount. Ultimately each situation will be assessed based on need. A family of four, for example, with an income of $72,000 may be eligible as well.

Gloger said she believes the decision to provide the service, which began in January, to community members will have a positive long-term effect.

“Its a matter of corporate responsibility,” said Golger.

According to Gloger, the location of the service was suggested by the city and is expected to provide aid for the community in particular areas such as labour, employment, human rights, bankruptcy, immigration and owning property.

Sceptics have criticized the law firm suggesting that the aid is merely a publicity stunt for the firm and it will not last, but according to Gloger, “they’re here to stay.”