Law firms offer assistance to Syrian refugees

In response to the crisis in Syria, Canadian law firms are stepping up to privately sponsor refugees to Canada or assist in the process.

Goldblatt Partners LLP says it will work with Lifeline Syria to sponsor a Syrian refugee family, and it has launched a fundraising campaign to cover living and other expenses for the family for one year.

The firm’s partners agreed last week to match donations dollar to dollar up to $15,000, with the goal of raising at least $30,000.

The response comes after a tragic photo of a dead Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach drew the world’s attention to the refugee crisis. Goldblatt Partners associate Frances Mahon says she and her colleagues discussed the idea of sponsorship for weeks, but they decided to take action last week.

“Probably every office has been talking about this, especially over the past week, and there was such a sense of hopelessness among all of us last week,” Mahon says. “We thought this is a way everybody could contribute. Whether financially or otherwise, it’s going to be all hands on deck in the firm.”

Goldblatt Partners is also working on a how-to guide for private sponsorships in hopes of rallying other firms to join the cause, Mahon says.

“We envision this as a call to action to other firms. If we can do it, they can do it too,” she adds.

In Goderich, Ont., The Ross Firm is proposing the town undertake a sponsorship of refugees with groups of five people, or community groups privately sponsoring refugees. The firm says it would provide pro bono assistance, direction, and support during the application process.  

“At this point, we’ve reached out to the community as a whole and let them know this is something that we would be willing to take on, and are looking for support within the community to see if there’s a willingness to move forward with it,” says Matthew Chapman, spokesman for Quinn Ross, managing partner of The Ross Firm.

“We’ve had a pretty strong response so far, it’s been very promising,” Chapman adds, noting community members have come forward offering administrative, financial, and assimilation support. The law firm is hoping to speak with the town’s council later this month to discuss the initiative.

At Goldblatt Partners, Mahon says the firm will also be providing non-financial assistance to the refugees it sponsors as well. This will include airport pickups when they arrive, connecting refugees to the Syrian community in Canada, and helping them find employment, she says.

Updated Sept. 9: Title of Matthew Chapman corrected

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