Access to Justice Blog
Analysis and opinions from the leading voices in access to justice research.
This article, written by Janet Freeman, Courthouse Libraries BC LawMatters Program Coordinator and Nancy Hannum, LawMatters Program Consultant, charts the growing role of public libraries and public librarians as partners in access to justice. It includes a timeline of recommendations for an increase in legal information materials in public libraries and more training for public librarians, that subsequently shaped the current public legal education and information service in BC's libraries. This history references the 1975 Law Commission Report, the 1974 British Columbia Justice Development Commission Report, the 1975 Legal information Services Program (LISP), the Public Library Program (PLP) and the Legal Resource Centre (LRC). Read about the success of this unique program and how British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in Canada (and possibly the English-speaking world) to develop an ongoing program to help public libraries provide legal information to the public from Janet Freeman's and Nancy Hannum's LawMatters article. ... Read More
The A2J debate in Canada and the U.S. includes many perspectives on the challenges of accessing a range of legal services and aid, and offers any number of potential solutions. While my role as Communications and Research Assistant with the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice has, in many ways, provided me with an online platform to discuss issues surrounding A2J in Canada and the U.S., and to learn about the many challenges to legal aid service delivery, on October 1st and 2nd, the inaugural Innovation and Access to Justice Conference provided me with an entirely different platform to engage in conversations surrounding A2J issues: social labs, workshops, panel discussions and one-on-one, in-person dialogues.
Of the many burning questions I sought answers to, one in particular stood out. Before leaving for the conference, a man at the subway station asked me for directions. Normally, I respond with the best directions that I can and go on my way. This time, however, I struck up a conversation with him. I soon learned that he was traveling from Toronto to Barrie to support a friend in court. By way of justification for his travel, he added, “what are you going to do? He’s a... Read More
The United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Program on Drugs and Crime recently launched a worldwide study on legal aid. The study recognizes the significant role legal aid can play in securing people’s rights and entitlements, obtaining redress for grievances and ensuring proper criminal defense. The importance of legal aid was recognized by the member states of the United Nations in 2012 with the release of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems in 2012 and, more broadly, by the right to equal access to justice for all in the Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, also in 2012. The Declaration focused on providing access to justice for all, including legal aid.
The global legal aid study will collect information by means of a general questionnaire that is structured to accommodate for significant... Read More
We all know someone who is divorced, divorcing or thinking about it. For most, it is a profoundly unpleasant emotional experience. While it is important to recognize that a divorce is a complex process involving a vortex of emotions, a divorce is also a legal process. For couples looking to “uncouple,” the traditional legal dissolution of a marriage presents many difficulties including high costs and time-consuming procedures. Fortunately, the recent emergence of online divorce services such as Wevorce, indicate that the process of obtaining a legal document which declares an end to one’s marriage may be more difficult than necessary.
Before delving deeper into the philosophy behind Wevorce, it is worth noting that this upsurge in online divorce services has come at a time during which there has been a call for reform in legal services and accessible justice. In Canada, the Final Report of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters has brought attention to... Read More
Paralegals, who purportedly offer more affordable and accessible legal services than lawyers, are making a significant contribution to the resolution of residential tenancy disputes in Ottawa, but only for landlords and, increasingly, for corporate landlords. That is the conclusion indicated by a preliminary quantitative analysis of a sub-set of residential tenancy disputes. This tentative conclusion suggests not only that who provides more affordable/accessible legal services can have an impact on whose legal needs are serviced but also, and more fundamentally, whether access to justice is really being improved in this context at all.
As introduced in a previous CFCJ blog post, this research project aims to identify the role of paralegals in the Ontario residential tenancy dispute resolution system and to analyze their impact on the cost of justice and access to justice, especially for low-income tenants. The impetus for this study is two-fold. First, in the face of a perceived ongoing... Read More