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B.C. lawyer donates record $30-million to UBC law school

UBC's Faculty of Law building in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

A B.C. lawyer, philanthropist and businessman who has already donated millions to social justice causes has given the law school at the University of British Columbia the biggest gift it has ever received.

Peter Allard, a UBC law school grad, has donated $30-million to help the school promote human rights and social justice, as well as anti-corruption efforts around the world, the university said in a news release on Thursday. The donation is on top of $11.86-million Mr. Allard gave the school in 2011.

Mr. Allard was described by the university as "media shy," and declined to be interviewed about his gift. Instead, he told the school he felt "it's important for me to try and rebalance the system."

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"We all witness on a day-to-day basis horrendous abuses of power and corruption, and usually it's by those that have the money and the ability to illegally game the system or can pay for the influence," Mr. Allard told UBC in an interview.

Mr. Allard graduated from UBC with a B.A. in history in 1968, and a LL.B. degree in 1971. He practised real estate and business law for 20 years, and founded his own law firm, Allard and Co.

He stopped practising in 1993 and established the Highbury Foundation, which has funded special projects and charities such as the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Vancouver Aquarium, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the Emily Carr Institute Trust Fund, and others. Mr. Allard has also financed projects such as Vancouver's now-closed Odyssey nightclub and Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in Barbados.

Three generations of family members worked along thousands of employees to create the gift that was given to UBC Law, Mr. Allard said.

Mary Anne Bobinski, dean of what will now be known as the Peter A. Allard School of Law, said students and faculty are already working on social justice initiatives, including an indigenous community legal clinic and a project dedicated to helping people pursue claims of wrongful conviction, she said.

"Everywhere you look in the world, you can see the impact of the failure of the rule of law and what happens when you don't have people who have the knowledge skill, training, and ethical core to fight on behalf of those who are powerless," Ms. Bobinski said.

Andrea Fraser, president of the UBC Law Students' Society, is involved in a legal advice program that for people who can't afford to pay for it.

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"We're very excited to have the opportunity to expand that program due to Mr. Allard's gift," she said.

The award will also help with faculty recruitment and retention and the continuation of the Allard Prize for International Integrity, Ms. Bobinski said. The prize is a global award focused on recognizing those who fight against corruption, on behalf of human rights, ethics, transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.

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