Deborah Templer of Toronto wins the CBA Young Lawyers 2015 Pro Bono Award

  • February 20, 2015

Ottawa – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has named Deborah Templer, a partner at Gowlings in Toronto, the winner of the 2015 Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award.

The Selection Committee agreed that Deborah Templer embodies the spirit of the award, showing commitment, innovation and resolve in providing access to justice to some of the most needy people in our society.

“Deborah’s ongoing commitment to pro bono is remarkable on two fronts. She not only provides the pro bono services personally, but also advocates for increased programming in her community,” says Mathieu Leblanc-Gagnon, chair of Young Lawyers-CBA. “She is a true champion of pro bono services at the grassroots level.”

Deborah Templer first became involved with Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO) as a law student, volunteering at the Family Information Centre at the Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa. She continued her service to PBLO as a lawyer, acting as a duty counsel volunteer at Toronto Small Claims Court and Ontario Superior Court.

In this role, she has assisted countless individuals and volunteered hundreds of hours of her time, making her one of Gowlings’ top pro bono providers. Last year alone, she dedicated over 130 hours to her pro bono work.

In 2014 she spearheaded an innovative partnership between the firm and PBLO to launch a medical legal clinic at Canada’s largest rehab hospital for children, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Through the clinic and Deborah Templer’s leadership, families are assisted in resolving problems related to tax, employment insurance and more, thereby reducing the stress and worry in their lives.

She also handles her own files at the hospital’s legal clinic. She is currently working with a family struggling to cover the costs of caring for their severely disabled son. As the family earns a modest income, it does not qualify for medical, drug and dental benefits. To assist this family and potentially others, she is preparing an appeal to the Ontario Social Benefits Tribunal to challenge eligibility rules.

Deborah Templer received her LL.B. from University of Ottawa, and joined Gowlings as a summer student. She articled with the firm, stayed as an associate and is now a partner. Her practice emphasizes complex commercial matters including class actions, shareholder disputes and corporate litigation. Her community work includes serving as president of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke, and as counsel to The Advocates Society in LSUC v. Groia.

The Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award recognizes outstanding pro bono legal services to the community by a young lawyer in Canada and is awarded annually.

Ms. Templer will receive the award on Saturday, February 21, at the Fairmont Château Laurier, during the CBA Mid-Winter Meeting of Council.

The meeting is open to accredited media.  Please contact Hannah Bernstein at for accreditation.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.