January 27, 1936 – March 21, 2019
Pro Bono Ontario is mourning the loss of our great friend and incomparable champion, David W. Scott. His passing is an enormous loss to everyone he touched, to the entire legal profession, and to the fight for access to justice in Ontario.
David was a senior statesman who cherished his work with Pro Bono Ontario. In an oral history he provided to the Osgoode Society, he said “I don’t think I have done anything more rewarding in my professional life than being the President of Pro Bono Law Ontario.” For someone who contributed so much, to so many organizations, this is a remarkable statement that fills us with memories and gratitude. David poured himself into our mission but never lost sight of the people we serve. He was the very first volunteer at the Ottawa Law Help centre and continued to attend monthly to provide expert, compassionate advice to individuals struggling with everyday legal problems. He found the work exhilarating. It is well known that he has acted for Prime Ministers and Chief Justices. It was equally important to him to help vulnerable people who had nowhere else to turn. Later in that oral history, David acknowledged with characteristic grace that the time had come for him to end his term as President of PBO, even though he was, in his words “heartbroken to quit”. Well, we wouldn’t let him quit. He was too important to the cause. So we made him Chair Emeritus, and in that role he fought for the sustainability of pro bono services until the very end. David certainly walked the walk.
David received countless awards, too many to review. Some have been named for him, including a pro bono lifetime achievement award. But he made it clear that the greatest rewards were to serve and to lead. His legacy will not be defined by accolades, but instead by the thousands of people across Canada who have benefitted from his service and leadership.
We are moved by the flood of support we have received since David’s passing. Along with everyone in our community, we will dearly miss his vibrant personality, loving spirit, boundless energy, infectious passion, good humour, and willingness to fight for justice. We feel so lucky to have him as our friend and hero. We extend our deepest condolences to his family.