Access to Justice Week 2019: Diverse collaborators explore critical issues to place people at heart of justice
The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) successfully wrapped up its programming for the fourth annual Access to Justice Week (A2J Week) on November 1, 2019. Close to 1,500 participants attended these events in person and through live webcast.
“The Law Society has a long history of working to facilitate access to justice in collaboration with our justice sector partners,” said Law Society Treasurer Malcolm Mercer. “This year’s A2J Week was yet another demonstration of how we can highlight new initiatives, offer opportunities to connect with diverse collaborators, and explore critical issues from various community-focused perspectives.”
A2J Week kicked off with a panel discussion that explored Indigenous Justice. “This week is about strengthening the legal network to assist those who need it most,” said Law Society bencher and panel moderator Dianne Corbiere. “With this in mind, we continue to help the legal community better understand the legal traditions, perspectives and processes that Indigenous Peoples value and trust. Valuable resources, including the Guidelines for Working with Indigenous Peoples and the Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples, will help on that front.”
Ms. Corbiere chairs the Law Society’s Equity and Indigenous Affairs committee.
A keynote presentation on a new report by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) followed the Indigenous Justice panel later in the day. The report provided extensive evidence in support of the various benefits of investing in access to justice services and programs in Canada and abroad.
One of the key themes that emerged from this year’s A2J Week was the importance of collaboration in areas beyond the justice and legal sectors.
“It was great to see such a diverse range of voices presenting on critical issues not only about accessing legal services but also about how legal services and the justice sector need to evolve through the use of technology to meet the needs of the modern society,” said Tanya Lee, CEO of the Law Foundation of Ontario. “At the Law Foundation, our vision is putting people at the heart of justice. Whether we’re talking about the ways we provide legal services or the way we adapt them to the needs of different people within our community, we always have to place people first.”
The other events during A2J Week explored understanding and supporting self-represented litigants (Oct 29), and how data, technology and design are used, and can be used, in the justice system (Oct 30).
TAG concluded its A2J Week programming with a day-long conference produced in partnership with the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) and Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) that addressed public legal education and its role in access to justice.
These A2J Week programs contained over 13 hours of free continuing professional development, and equality, diversity and inclusion professionalism hours for lawyers and paralegals. The archived webcast will be available on TAG’s website later this month.
Concurrent French language programs and workshops took place in other communities through the support of partners including Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO) and Ottawa University’s Programme pratique du droit (PPD).
Legal information pop-ups were also held in local libraries in Ontario giving members of the public an opportunity to connect and receive information from legal non-profits, government departments and community organizations.
The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) was established by the Law Society of Ontario in 2015 to facilitate better coordination and collaboration across the justice sector. It is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario with support from the Law Society of Ontario.
Photos from A2J Week are here.