30 July 2014

New Access to Justice Blog Launched

I have just published a new blog on access to justice issues and solutions. Access to Justice in Canada is directed to lawyers and discusses the things that lawyers can do, individually or in small groups, to make material improvements to the accessibility of justice for everyone.

The new blog results from three things that have begun to trouble me of late. First, as the final report (PDF) of the Family Justice Working Group of the Action Committee on Access to Civil and Family Justice points out, there are limited governmental resources available to put toward the reform of the justice system. Second, the law reform initiatives presently underway across Canada have all adopted processes that will take some time to bear fruit, and have time-lines that are looking at two, three and more years to completion. Third, I fear that we are approaching a point of access to justice saturation, fatigue and burn-out. 

Although I support the inclusive processes adopted in provinces such as British Columbia and Alberta that take a multidisciplinary and expansive approach to reform, I worry that without some concrete, tangible evidence of progress, the public enthusiasm for change we enjoy at present will begin to dissipate. However, I know from my own personal experience that there are lots of things that lawyers can do to improve access to justice that don't need to wait for new rules of court, overhauled legislation, new triage processes and new social programs, that don't need to wait for the approval of the law society, government or the bench, that can be implemented now, at little or no cost to the individual lawyer.

I have already posted a number of suggested access to justice activities on the new blog, and will post more in the months ahead. My hope is that the blog will become less of an exercise of me talking from a soapbox and more of a forum for discussion and debate and, most importantly, a conversation about the things that all of us, acting together or alone, can do improve access to justice, and I invite you all to participate. 

Please check out the Access to Justice in Canada blog, at accesstojusticeincanada.blogspot.ca, and join me on this journey.