CLA was set up in 2005 with a simple goal in mind: To use law to improve lives in Canada and abroad. The founders, Yasmin Shaker and Catherine McKenna, strongly believe that the Canadian legal community – working at firms, in business, in academia, in the NGO world and in government – is uniquely placed to make a difference. Canadian lawyers practice in a variety of legal traditions. Canada has strong institutions and a commitment to the rule of law and human rights. Canadians come from all over the world. CLA works to bring together Canadian lawyers and law students to help build the rule of law and create strong institutions that are critical in the fight to end inequality and poverty in Canada and abroad.
As Jennifer Welch wrote in her book At home in the World: Canada’s Global Vision for the 21st century: “Canada, as an outward-looking citizen, has the responsibility to help build stable regimes around the world and an interest in doing so. We also have the ideas and expertise to do it.” That’s we believe at CLA.
We take the approach that working with our partner organizations in Canada and abroad on specific projects where Canadian lawyers have useful expertise, we can make a real difference in people’s lives.
More recently, we’ve considered how we can work with Canada’s Aboriginal communities to eradicate shocking poverty levels and improve lives in our own country. This has led to our focus on Canada’s north and our work with great organizations such the Nunavut Legal Services Board and the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council. Through the tremendous efforts and support of the legal and business communities, CLA has grown into a vibrant and dynamic organization with links across Canada and across the world.