Social Impact and Sustainability
At Torys,  we strive to make positive social and environmental impact and contribute to the communities in which we live and work.

Our Commitment

We believe we have a unique responsibility to use our firm’s strengths to effect positive change. This is what we have always endeavored to do, and it is part of who we are: our firm’s culture has a deep-rooted understanding of the importance of serving the communities in which we live and work. From our broad pro bono practice to the comprehensive approach we take to conducting business in a sustainable manner, and the wide range of giving back and charitable work being done at the firm, we carry with us a deep sense of commitment to our local communities and beyond.

Vaccine Hunters Canada talks with Torys’ pro bono team on carrying out their vision

Hear from members of the Vaccine Hunters Canada team on some of the pressing legal and business issues they faced in helping Canadians find vaccines.

Giving Back to Our Communities

Pro Bono Committee

From international litigation to giving social entrepreneurs corporate advice, Torys’ Pro Bono Committee oversees the full spectrum of the firm’s pro bono work, driven by the belief that a bono practice is a vital element of every lawyer’s professional responsibility.  

Pro Bono Work

In a precedent-setting case, a Torys team led by partners Sylvie Rodrigue and Sarah Whitmore successfully represented Canadian Olympic boxer Mandy Bujold and the Canadian Olympic Committee in a discrimination legal challenge before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland.

Mandy is an 11-time national champion, two-time Pan American Games gold medalist and a Rio 2016 Olympian. She was disqualified from competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after the IOC cancelled the Americas qualifier, which was supposed to be held last May, and retroactively decided to use only three events held in 2018-2019 to qualify female boxers, a period during which Mandy was pregnant or postpartum.

Mandy and Sylvie Rodrigue brought the discriminatory effect of this decision to the attention of the IOC to no avail, following which an appeal to CAS was filed.

This was a human rights case with the core issue being discrimination based on sex in violation of the Olympic Charter, Swiss law and International law. On June 30th, the Court granted the appeal and ordered the IOC to amend its qualification criteria to include an accommodation for women who were pregnant or postpartum during the period retroactively chosen to qualify athletes. As a result, Mandy qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and represented Canada.

We are proud of our team’s success in this case and are grateful for the opportunity to have been able to represent Mandy in this fight for women’s rights in sport.

Torys has assisted anti-trafficking NGO, Prajwala, based in India. In 2017, Prajwala made an urgent plea to Thomson Reuters Foundation's pro bono legal program TrustLaw when it was given a tight deadline to submit briefs to the Supreme Court of India describing the tools used in other countries to confront the public posting of sex crime videos.

Alongside TrustLaw and others, a Torys team including Lara Guest and Molly Reynolds, produced a memorandum on laws in the U.S., Canada and India, which sanction the distribution of images of sexual violence.

Following the hearing, the Supreme Court launched a committee tasked with creating a mechanism for the mandatory reporting and blocking of online content of sexual violence. Based on the committee’s recommendations, the Supreme Court is expected to issue guidelines on the policing of such images.

We work with TOHealth!, a not-for-profit organization committed to raising the profile of the Toronto region’s human and health sciences cluster. TOHealth! is a unique platform for convening stakeholders, enabling novel collaborations to facilitate R&D, and bridging the gap between R&D and commercialization.

We work with TOHealth!, a not-for-profit organization committed to raising the profile of the Toronto region’s human and health sciences cluster. TOHealth! is a unique platform for convening stakeholders, enabling novel collaborations to facilitate R&D, and bridging the gap between R&D and commercialization.

We have been providing pro bono legal advice to TOHealth! for several years. A team, comprised of partners Eileen McMahon and Cheryl Reicin, has helped TOHealth! become a federally incorporated, not-for-profit organization.

As a business law firm, we feel a particular responsibility to give our support to the corporate needs of organizations that are dedicated to advancing social causes. For example, Torys partner Aaron Emes advised on Canada's first online capital-raising platform—MaRS VX, known as MaRS Social Venture Connexion (SVX)—whose objective is to facilitate impact investing by bringing together, via an online platform, accredited investors and impact issuers aiming to solve social or environmental challenges in Ontario. Since its inception, Torys has advised MaRS VX on securities regulatory aspects of its operations on a pro bono basis.

Over the years, we have also provided pro bono legal advice on corporate governance and other matters to FoodShare—a Toronto-based organization working with communities and schools to deliver healthy food and food education through innovative programs promoting food justice and food security. Torys’ work has included assisting FoodShare with leasing and developing its Community Food Hub, which people from around the world come to learn about FoodShare and its ground-breaking programs. The Torys team of Andy Gibbons, Michael Fortier and Richard Willoughby helped in a small way to make FoodShare’s vision of building a world-class food hub into a reality.

After five years of advocacy the Torys pro bono team helped fix Canada’s No Fly List to better identify threats and no longer trap innocent Canadians. This issue has impacted tens of thousands of innocent children (and adults) over the years because their names were similar to those of individuals listed in the government’s Passenger Protection Program (or “no-fly list”) introduced to prevent threats to air security. Below is an extract from our client’s heartfelt note to us:

“It’s been a five-year journey for our families since we first went public. There is no way that we would have gotten here without Torys. Your team helped us change national security policy for the better after fruitless efforts for a decade. Your firm helped protect the Charter rights of tens of thousands of Canadians, many of them children or who haven’t even been born yet.”

Sustainable Business Initiatives

Our Pro Bono Commitment

Our legal professionals across practices and all our offices take very seriously their commitment to pro bono work. As a collective, we have dedicated 10,000 hours of work to pro bono causes in the last year.