Canadian Lawyer InHouse

June/July 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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14 GC PROFILE evolving models to bring access to justice and law programs in many war-torn regions. Through an initiative to register law firms in Afghanistan and Uganda, Pobjoy and the team at War Child trained lawyers and paralegals to advance human rights and protect women and children from abuse. The firms offer free legal representation from local counsel to women and children who have survived violence and abuse. The organization also ran mobile legal clinics to reach women in refugee and distant communities and develop human rights education programs for women and girls. When the pandemic first struck last year, Pobjoy led a highly successful, nationwide emergency coalition of around 300 leading charities and community organizations to advocate for support from the federal government as the sector was in danger of collapsing. War Child also made an abrupt pivot to respond to the pandemic challenges for people living in precarious situations. "Our local teams in every single country had to radically alter what they were doing so that kids could continue to be educated and protected," says Pobjoy. These teams expanded radio and distance-based education programs to ensure that children could continue to learn. At the same time, War Child's local groups provided COVID-19 education and supplies to the communities in need. As War Child had to cancel fundraising events and donations plummeted in the early stages of the pandemic, the organization shifted to organizing virtual events and made substantial cost cuts at the headquarters in Toronto. At the same time, Pobjoy's team successfully pitched COVID relief programs to donors and funding partners. War Child operates with the help of pro bono expertise from firms including Blakes, Bennett Jones and Paliare Roland. "Not only have these firms been generous with their time, but they've actually also provided us with financial support over the years, which is incredibly meaningful for us," says Pobjoy. The organization also benefits from the local knowledge of external counsel in almost every country in which it operates. Pobjoy's goals for the year ahead are to support the organization's ongoing expansion to reach more communities in need. War Child has recently received registration in Yemen. Hence, the organization plans to open up community centres where children and their mothers can receive psychosocial support and education to help them rebuild their lives amid the ongoing civil war that has devastated the country. He also plans to work with War Child USA to focus on bringing support to El Salvador, where conflict has impacted many lives. Working overseas on the frontlines and seeing the power of the frontline teams has been a highlight for Pobjoy since he joined War Child. "I've met with teenagers who told me that our education program saved their lives or prevented them from being forced into war, and I've talked to women who overcame tremendous challenges in gender-based violence with the support of our local teams," he says. "I feel that my role is really just facilitating and giving some extra support to those on the ground in those communities and to push them forwards and have their backs when there is a challenge." "I'm able to weigh in on the challenges and opportunities in our programs abroad and to work with counsel across the world in our local offices." Completed a Doctor of Law at the University of Toronto Worked for the Ontario government as senior advisor to the minister of health Is the sole lawyer at War Child Canada Articled at Goodmans LLP War Child Canada was recognized as one of Canada's Top 10 Impact Charities by Charity Intelligence Canada FACT FILE

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