Kyle Rees of St. John's Wins CBA Young Lawyers 2016 Pro Bono Award

  • February 19, 2016

OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has named Kyle Rees, an associate at O’Dea Earle Law Offices in St. John’s, the winner of the 2016 Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award.

The Selection Committee agreed that Kyle Rees, in practice since 2013, has already made an impressive pro bono contribution that will have a lasting effect on the quality of life of transgendered people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Not only has Mr. Rees contributed significant time and legal acumen to pro bono work over the years, but he has shown his commitment to ensuring that the legal landscape is equal and fair for all,” says Erika Carrasco, Chair of the CBA Young Lawyers Forum.

“He has shown leadership among those in Newfoundland and Labrador who seek to make the justice system work as an engine for progress,” adds Ms. Carrasco.

In January 2015, Kyle Rees learned of the struggle of a young trans woman who was unable to obtain a driver’s licence unless she underwent dangerous sterilizing surgery. This requirement was imposed by outdated legislation, the Vital Statistics Act, which requires “transsexual surgery” before the gender on a birth certificate can be changed.

After hearing about the woman’s struggle, Mr. Rees agreed to assist her on a pro bono basis. He provided more than 60 hours of legal work including research, and drafting the application, factum and affidavits. He consulted with other lawyers and experts across Canada to determine the best way to challenge the Act.

His efforts resulted in a successful outcome. In July 2015, the provincial government agreed to amend the legislation to bring it in line with the Charter.

A role model to other young lawyers, “Kyle has demonstrated the importance of pro bono services and the lasting impact they can have on people’s lives,” adds Erika Carrasco.

A graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, Kyle Rees was called to the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013. He received his BA from Memorial University in 2009 and was a staff writer for Obiter Dicta, the Osgoode Hal Law School’s student newspaper from 2010 to 2012. He currently coaches the Memorial University undergraduate mooting team. He has been an associate at O’Dea Earle Law Offices since 2013.

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.

Kyle Rees will receive the award on Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Fairmont Château Laurier, during the CBA Mid-Winter Meeting of Council.

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 in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.