A battle to the finish in Toronto law firm food bank challenge

The competitive nature of those in the legal profession is being leveraged to help the Daily Bread Food Bank.

The Toronto Law Firm Challenge for Daily Bread is in its final week and the push is on to see who will be the winner come Friday.

This is the 10th year Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has organized the friendly competition between Toronto law firms. The challenge began in 2003 and raised over $60,000. Last year, 35 law firms participated and raised more than $245,000 in cash and food donations. The goal for 2012 is $250,000. Since its inception the Law Firm Challenge has raised more than $1.5 million for Daily Bread.

This year, 41 Toronto law firms are participating. The first week’s total was more than $55,000, and since many firms planned larger events in the second and third weeks, organizers expect the totals will be much higher.

Blakes’ articling students Tamara Nachmani and Laura Fogler have been working along with the 25 other articling students at Blakes to help run the fundraiser. They started organizing in October, and approached about 100 law firms across the city in early November. Representatives from participating firms came to Blakes for a meeting with Daily Bread to discuss the importance of the fundraiser to the charity.

“This is the largest employee drive for the holiday season for Daily Bread,” says Nachmani. “There are about 10,000 people at all of the firms participating in the drive.”

While big firms like Blakes are setting a goal to raise $35,000 this year, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein, a litigation boutique has taken a lead raising $25,000 at an event last week.

“It’s a friendly competition,” says Nachmani. “There will be an overall winner but there is also a prize for most per capita raised to encourage the smaller firms to compete. Right now Paliare Roland has raised $404 per capita, which is incredible.”

Blakes raised $30,000 from its Celebrity Pie Duel held last week.

The firm convinced 12 “personalities” to put themselves in the line of fire at the end of last week in the staff lounge. They were paired up to create six “duels” and wrote e-mails building the storylines — corporate v. securities, husband v. wife, etc.

An intranet page was created where staff could go to view the “duels” and how much money each Blakes “celebrity” had raised.

Pledges could be made to support any of the Blakes celebs by clicking on a their face on the Blakenet page. An articling student would then swing by to collect the pledge.

In order to win the right to pie their opponent, the winner must have raised a minimum of $500. The donations made prior to the event and during the event were totaled and the personality who raised the most money had an opportunity to throw a pie in the face of the other celebrity.

Partners Robin Linley and Thomas von Hahn, raised $5,176 between the two of them. Linley out-raised von Hahn and was able to put a pie on von Hahn’s head (see photo). Pamela Huff and Richard Prupas raised $12,671. Prupas, Blakes’ chief financial officer, took a pie in the face from Huff of the firm’s restructuring and insolvency group.

“The generosity of everyone at the firm was incredible,” says Fogler. “During the last five minutes we raised $7,000. A lot of people did things to encourage extra donations. One person said for every $50 donated to her campaign she would match the $50.”

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