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Monday, October 17, 2016

SMALL TORONTO FIRM WINS PRO BONO HONOUR

The Bellissimo Law Group will be receiving the Law Firm Pro Bono Award from Pro Bono Ontario.

Since 2012, the firm of seven lawyers — the Bellissimo Law Group — has provided pro bono help to more than 100 families who have children at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and are also dealing with immigration issues.

The firm’s work includes helping children dealing with serious illness who are also facing deportation or may have parents who are. 

The firm first got involved with the hospital after Mario Bellissimo, the firm’s founder and principal lawyer, says he toured the wards and saw what children were dealing with.

“I spoke to my team and said look this is not going to be easy, but I’d like to take on these cases because, if you can imagine, while they’re facing serious health issues, they’re also facing deportation,” he says.

Bellissimo says that 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the firm’s work has been pro bono since it got involved in PBO’s medical-legal partnership with SickKids.

He recalled the case of a young girl with a serious renal disease who required immediate treatment but was facing deportation to her country, where the treatment would not have been available.

The Toronto immigration firm was able to prevent her deportation so that she was able to obtain ongoing treatment from SickKids.

Bellissimo knows too well what kind of strain some of these families are experiencing, having lost five of eight siblings to illness.

He is no stranger to life and death situations.

“I knew how all-encompassing that is, when you’re trying to fight a very serious health issue,” he says.

“When I heard what PBO was doing with sick kids, I couldn’t imagine having to deal with a health issue, as well as having to wage a legal battle.”

Bellissimo says he hopes to encourage other firms to do similar work if they have the ability and resources to do so.

THREE NEW JUDGES APPOINTED TO ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE

The Ministry of the Attorney General has appointed three new justices to the Ontario Court of Justice.

Marcella Henschel, John Stuart McInnes and Christine Pirraglia have been tapped to become the newest judges at the courthouse in Newmarket, Ont.

Henschel has spent more than 22 years serving as Crown counsel in Newmarket. McInnes has been Crown counsel in the same jurisdiction for 16 years and Pirraglia has served as Crown attorney for North York since 2010.

OSGOODE PROFESSOR RELEASES BOOK OF POEMS

Kate Sutherland has momentarily exchanged her lawyer’s robes for a poet’s quill.

This fall, the Osgoode Hall Law School professor released her first book of poems — How to Draw a Rhinoceros — with BookThug Publishing. The book chronicles artistic representations of rhinoceroses throughout history.   

Sutherland got the idea for the book when she encountered an 18th-century porcelain representation of a rhinoceros at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto and wanted to know more about that particular rhino’s story.

The book was released Sept. 22.

LAW TIMES POLL 

A Law Times column stated that the Criminal Code is outdated when it comes to people making bets related to fantasy sports. 

Readers were asked if betting on fantasy sports online should be legal.

More than 69 per cent said yes, the law is outdated when it comes to fantasy sports and betting money on the outcome of games should be perfectly legal.

Almost 31 per cent said no, betting on the outcome of games should be illegal.

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The Law Society of Upper Canada’s governing body has approved a proposal to create a new licence for paralegals that would train them in some aspects of family law such as form completion, uncontested divorces and motions to change. Do you agree with this move?
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