Alberta law firms offer generous support to wildfire victims

As wildfires in and around Fort McMurray begin to subside and residents are faced with the terrible aftermath, Legal Feeds asked major law firms in Alberta what they’re doing to help — which is a lot, it turns out.

Gowling WLG’s chief executive officer Peter Lukasiewicz sums up what a lot of lawyers in Alberta are feeling.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible disaster. Through our Calgary office, we have close ties to many people in these communities, and we want them to know we stand with them during this difficult time.”

Field Law managing partner James Casey says: “We all appreciate the monumental task facing families and the city of Fort McMurray to rebuild. During times of great need and challenge Albertans rally to help our neighbours and Field Law is jumping right in to do our part.”

"We are humbled and proud to join together, both as a national firm and with the Calgary legal community, to support those affected by the ravaging fires in Fort McMurray," says Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP Calgary managing partner Maureen Killoran.  "We know there will be much more work to be done in the weeks and months ahead and our friends, colleagues and clients can count on Osler to lend a hand."

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP (140 lawyers in Calgary)
•    co-ordinating with other firms in the province to raise funds for Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal
•    employees selling Defeat the Heat T-shirts to raise money and visibly show solidarity
•    Calgary managing partner Brad Hayden: “These people are our friends and neighbours and when a neighbour needs help, it’s the right thing to do. It’s who we are as Canadians. In the legal industry, we like the facts, and the facts are Fort McMurray and its citizens need help.”

Burnett Duckworth & Palmer LLP (140 lawyers in Calgary):
•    joined forces with other major firms in Calgary, including Norton Rose, Bennett Jones, Blakes, DLA Piper, Field Law, McCarthys, Osler, Stikeman Elliott and Torys
•    donated $30,000 to Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal
•    launched matching program, up to $10,000, for staff and lawyers

Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP (110 lawyers in Calgary):
•    donated $50,000 to the Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal
•    staff and lawyers have donated $6,750
•    employee fundraising activities planned across Canada (online auction, 50/50 raffle, pizza lunch and T-shirt sales)

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (120 lawyers in Calgary):
•    launched matching program for donations to Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal

Field Law (120 lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton):
•    collected donations from staff and lawyers
•    organized fundraising events (bake sales, silent auction) with more planned
•    launched matching program, up to $5,000, for donations to the Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal
•    established dedicated Red Cross online portal for lawyers, staff, and vendors to donate
•    raised $22,000, with minimum goal of $30,000
•    participating in Defeat the Heat T-shirt fundraiser

Miller Thomson LLP (90 lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton):
•    lawyers reached out to victims within 24 hours, offered homes in Edmonton as refuge
•    established dedicated Red Cross online portal for staff and lawyers to donate
•    launched matching program for donations
•    staff and lawyers donated household supplies for displaced families

Bennett Jones LLP (200 lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton):
•    donated to Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal
•    providing office space in Edmonton for one Fort McMurray law firm that was displaced (with support staff set up in boardrooms)
•    providing computers, phones, and office supplies for this law firm
•    one partner has provided the use of a home to a displaced family

Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP (70 lawyers in Calgary):
•    in less than three days, donated $200,000 to the Fort McMurray Fund

McCarthy Tétrault LLP (70 lawyers in Calgary):
•    McCarthy Tétrault Foundation has donated $75,000 to the Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal

Dentons Canada LLP (190 lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton):
•    launched matching program for donations to the Red Cross Fires Appeal
•    matching program has collected $125,000
•    reaching out through the law society, social media and networks to offer office space to displaced lawyers
•    some lawyers in Edmonton have opened their homes to displaced clients and lawyers

MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP (40 lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton):
•    launched matching program for donations to Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal
•    raised $16,500 in donations from lawyers and staff
•    donated $1,500 to process several tonnes of laundry for evacuees
•    donated $5,000 to Fort McKay, north of Fort McMurray, which opened its doors to evacuees and air-dropped supplies to nearby oil sands mine
•    donated $1,500 to aboriginal community to assist in providing aid to evacuees
•    Calgary lawyer Dean Hutchison, born and raised in Fort Mac, organized a donation drive with his children for clothing and other items

Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP (90 lawyers in Calgary):
•    launched matching program for donations, up to $50,000, to Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal (with $100,000 target)
•    offered office space for displaced clients

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP (50 lawyers in Calgary):
•    donated to Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal
•    launched matching program for donations from staff and lawyers
•    offering emergency office and meeting spaces in Edmonton and Calgary for displaced lawyers
•    allowed staff to volunteer for relief efforts during work hours
•    Alberta lawyers and staff have contributed much-needed supplies like toiletries and bedding
•    Toronto office has raised a significant amount of money through a matching program
•    individual lawyers have offered to help evacuees with claim process and paperwork
•    many individuals are hosting evacuees and their pets

Update May 15: Quote from Maureen Killoran revised. Spelling of Dean Hutchison's name corrected.

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