Access to Justice: Action Committee Looks at Problems, Innovative Solutions / Accès à la justice : le Comité d’action aborde les problèmes à la recherche de solutions innovatrices

La version française suit.

Access to justice leaders from coast to coast to coast met for two and one-half days in Ottawa in April at the annual summit of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. These people know better than most how big a challenge we face in improving access to justice. But that did not temper the enthusiasm for what has been accomplished or weaken the resolve to keep working for change.

Delegates representing the broad coalition that makes up the action committee — deputy ministers, the judiciary, provincial and territorial access to justice groups, legal aid plans, pro bono groups, public legal education providers, the bar, notaries, ADR professionals, administrative tribunals and the public — heard of the success of the action committee’s public engagement initiative and its innovation tool box project. Thousands of people engaged with the need for an effective civil and family justice system and people across Canada active in justice innovation developed communities of practice and other tools to help them with their important work. Sarah McCoubrey and Meredith Brown, access to justice strategists with Calibrate, designed and executed both projects, which were funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario.

The group also was given an update on progress on the action committee’s Justice Development Goals. Sixty-eight new initiatives to help people address everyday legal problems; 64 new initiatives designed to better meet legal needs, including eight new pro bono services; 50 projects aimed at improving family justice. And the list goes on.

One of the challenges facing reformers is the dearth of empirical evidence about how our civil and family justice system works and how to know if our reforms are having the intended effect. The improvement in justice metrics is a critical element of any long-term plan for systemic change. People at the summit learned of a project spearheaded by Jerry McHale which is bringing together a strong coalition to work on this topic. Bringing to together researchers at the faculties of law at the University of Victoria, University of Saskatchewan, York University and University of Montreal, the initiative’s goal is to develop priorities for justice system metrics and to build capacity for data gathering and analysis. And feeding into that effort was the work at the summit to begin to develop indicators; that is, things we can measure, in relation to each of the Justice Development Goals.

A full day of the summit was devoted to the issue of Indigenous child welfare. Organized by Scott Robertson of the Indigenous Bar Association and Mark Benton of the Legal Services Society of B.C., distinguished speakers from across Canada led us through an intense and impactful overview of the woeful state of services for Indigenous children and families in many parts of our country. While not usually discussed as an access to justice issue, the presentations at the summit showed that it certainly is. The child welfare system almost everywhere in Canada is not meeting the needs of children, families or communities. The speakers at the summit helped participants not only to better understand the problem, but also to hear about promising solutions. Better funding, more community leadership, more culturally appropriate options and a wider focus on the whole family were some of the aspects discussed.

To cap the summit, Beverley McLachlin, recently retired as chief justice of Canada, confirmed that she has agreed to assume the chair of the action committee this autumn. Her successor as chief justice, Richard Wagner, confirmed that he has accepted to take on the role of honourary chair of the action committee, following in his predecessor’s footsteps. Stay tuned!

All of us concerned about access to justice will not be satisfied until there is a great deal more improvement. But this gathering of leaders demonstrated that there is a growing commitment to make the necessary change and an impressive array of innovative projects showing that making that change is possible.
This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily on June 20, 2018. It is the eighth article in The Honourable Thomas Cromwell’s exclusive Lawyer’s Daily column dedicated to access to civil and family justice.

The Honourable Thomas Cromwell served 19 years as an appellate judge and chairs the Chief Justice’s Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. He retired from the Supreme Court of Canada in September of 2016 and is now senior counsel to the national litigation practice at Borden Ladner Gervais.


En avril, des chefs de file sur les questions d’accès à la justice, venus des quatre coins du pays, se sont réunis pendant deux jours et demi à Ottawa, pour participer au sommet annuel du Comité d’action sur l’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale. Ce sont des gens particulièrement bien placés pour savoir à quel point il peut être difficile d’améliorer l’accès à la justice. Mais cela ne les a pas empêchés de se réjouir des progrès accomplis, et ils restent déterminés à amener de plus amples changements par leur travail assidu.

Les délégués représentant la vaste coalition des parties membres du Comité d’action – des sous-ministres, des juges, des représentants de groupes provinciaux et territoriaux d’accès à la justice, de régimes d’aide juridique, des professionnels qui offrent bénévolement des services juridiques, des fournisseurs de services d’éducation juridique du public, des avocats, des notaires, des professionnels du règlement extrajudiciaire des différends (RED), ainsi que des représentants de tribunaux administratifs et du grand public –, ont été informés du succès que le Comité d’action a obtenu avec son initiative de consultation publique et son projet de boîte à outils de l’innovation. Des milliers de personnes consultées ont confirmé la nécessité d’assurer un système efficace de justice civile et familiale, et des gens de tout le Canada agissant pour l’innovation en matière de justice ont quant à eux mis en place des communautés de pratique et d’autres outils pour faciliter leur important travail. Sarah McCoubrey et Meredith Brown, stratèges sur les questions d’accès à la justice au sein de l’organisation Calibrate, ont conçu et mis à exécution les deux projets, qui ont été financés par la Fondation du droit de l’Ontario.

Le groupe a aussi été mis au courant des progrès qu’a réalisés le Comité d’action par rapport à ses Objectifs de développement en matière de justice : 68 nouvelles initiatives pour aider les gens à résoudre des problèmes juridiques courants; 64 nouvelles initiatives conçues pour mieux répondre aux besoins juridiques, dont huit nouveaux services juridiques offerts bénévolement par des professionnels; 50 projets visant à améliorer le système de justice familiale; et la liste se poursuit.

Une des difficultés auxquelles les réformateurs doivent faire face tient à la pénurie de données empiriques sur la façon dont fonctionne notre système de justice civile et familiale, et sur ce que nous pouvons faire pour savoir si nos réformes donnent les effets escomptés. Tout plan pour la réalisation d’un changement systémique à long terme doit nécessairement passer par l’amélioration des paramètres de mesure de ces données. Les participants au sommet ont été informés d’un projet mené par Jerry McHale, qui rassemble une solide coalition œuvrant en ce sens, formée de chercheurs des facultés de droit de l’Université de Victoria, de l’Université de la Saskatchewan, de l’Université York et de l’Université de Montréal. L’objectif du projet consiste à déterminer les priorités de mesure pour les données relatives au système de justice, et de renforcer la capacité de collecte et d’analyse de ces données. Les participants au sommet y ont contribué en entamant l’élaboration d’indicateurs – c’est-à-dire des éléments que nous pouvons mesurer par rapport à chacun des Objectifs de développement en matière de justice.

Une journée entière du sommet a été consacrée à la question des services d’aide aux enfants autochtones. Cette journée était organisée par Scott Robertson de l’Association du Barreau autochtone et de Mark Benton de la Legal Services Society de Colombie-Britannique, et d’éminents conférenciers d’un peu partout au Canada nous y ont donné un aperçu criant et saisissant de l’état déplorable dans lequel se trouvent les services destinés aux enfants et familles autochtones, à de nombreux endroits au pays. Bien que ce ne soit habituellement pas traité comme un enjeu d’accès à la justice, les exposés entendus au sommet ont démontré que c’en était bel et bien un. Presque partout au Canada, le système de protection de l’enfance ne répond aux besoins ni des enfants, ni des familles, ni des collectivités concernées. Les conférenciers du sommet ont permis aux participants non seulement de mieux comprendre la problématique, mais aussi de prendre connaissance de solutions prometteuses. Parmi les aspects traités, il y avait notamment l’amélioration du financement, le renforcement du leadership communautaire, l’élaboration de possibilités mieux adaptées à la réalité culturelle, et l’élargissement du cadre d’intervention afin d’y inclure toute la famille.

Pour couronner le tout, Beverley McLachlin, récemment retraitée de ses fonctions de juge en chef du Canada, a confirmé qu’elle avait accepté d’assumer la présidence du Comité d’action à partir de cet automne. Son successeur à titre de juge en chef, Richard Wagner, a quant à lui confirmé qu’il suivrait ses traces en acceptant la présidence honoraire. Ce sera donc à suivre!

Nous tous, qui nous préoccupons d’accès à la justice, continuerons de veiller au grain tant et aussi longtemps que les choses ne se seront pas nettement améliorées. Entre-temps, cette rencontre de chefs de file en la matière a montré que de plus en plus de parties s’engagent à effectuer les changements nécessaires, et la gamme impressionnante de projets innovateurs qui y ont été présentés tend à démontrer que ces changements sont tout à fait possibles.

L’honorable Thomas Cromwell a été juge d’appel pendant 19 ans et siège au Comité d’action sur l’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale établi à la demande de la juge en chef. Il a pris sa retraite de la Cour suprême du Canada en septembre 2016 et agit désormais comme avocat-conseil principal dans le domaine du contentieux à l’échelle nationale, au sein du cabinet Borden Ladner Gervais.

Plain Language in Modern Times – Call for Papers for the Clarity 2018 Symposium

The 2018 international Clarity Conference will take place from October 25 to 27 in Montreal. This year’s conference will focus on the usage of plain language in law to improve access to justice. Conference organizers have issued a call for papers and will be accepting paper proposals for this year’s event until March 31, 2018. The announcement about papers accepted for this year’s event will be made on May 1st. During the 3-day event there will be a total of 30 1-hour presentation blocks, consisting of 60 30-minute presentations. Information on the call for papers, recommended presentation formats, registration and more is available on their website here: www.clarity2018.org/call-for-papers.

For more information on the biennial Clarity Conference, visit their website here: clarity2018.org.

Two New Publications from the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF) recently published two new papers:

The Development of Parenting Coordination and an Examination of Policies and Practices in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta was prepared by Dr. Lorne Bertrand and John-Paul Boyd and reviews the development of parenting coordination in the United States and its adoption in Canada. This paper also explores the findings of the research available to date on parenting coordination, its efficacy in resolving parenting disputes, its efficacy in steering such disputes out of court and its impact on parental conflict. The Development of Parenting Coordination and an Examination of Policies and Practices in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta discusses the practice of parenting coordination in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, compares processes and training standards in those provinces, and makes recommendations for the practice of parenting coordination in Alberta, and in Canada generally.

Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward, Results from the Survey of Symposium Participants was prepared by Joanne Paetsch, Dr. Lorne Bertrand and John-Paul Boyd and is the first written output from the “Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward” two-day symposium presented by the CRILF and the Alberta Office of the Child and Youth Advocate. The symposium offered a unique opportunity to survey an informed and involved pool of participants regarding their perceptions and experiences with children’s participation in justice processes. This report presents the final results of this survey of symposium participants, and includes recommendations for moving forward.

Both publications are available on the CRILF website here:  http://www.crilf.ca/publications.htm

 

The details in this post were taken from information circulated by the CRILF.

Upcoming A2J-Related Events

ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEK (October 23 – 27) Ontario
The 2nd annual Access to Justice Week is underway with various events taking place across Ontario. Live streaming and webcast links are available here for some remaining events.


IMMIGRATION LAW: LAW AT THE LIBRARY SERIES (October 28) at 2516 Alta Vista, Ottawa
This event is geared towards new immigrants to Canada and individuals with questions about immigration and visiting Canada. The Immigration Law – Law at the Library Series event will cover information on applying for visas, permanent residency, becoming a Canadian citizen, legal rights and more.


EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: INFORMATION SESSION (October 30) at 130 Queen Street West, Toronto
This information session will discuss the strategies that the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) will be putting in place to help address discrimination and racism in the legal profession.


CANFest 2017 (November 1) at 130 Queen Street West, Toronto
This event will provide information on the Coach and Advisor Network (CAN) and offer visitors an opportunity to meet participants in the Coach and Advisor Network.


TAKE OUR KIDS TO WORK AT OSGOODE HALL 2017 (November 1) at 130 Queen Street West, Toronto
The goal of this event is to educate students in Grade 9 about the steps to becoming a legal professional.


#140DOWN – NOW WHAT? THE FUTURE OF LAWYERING IS HERE (November 3) at Fort Garry Place Banquet & Conference, Winnipeg
Innovators, analysts and experts in the legal field will be among the presenters and attendees at the 140th Isaac Pitblado Lecture on the theme of Now What? The Future of Lawyering is Here. More information on this event is available online at http://www.pitbladolectures.com. The program agenda is available online here.


THE ONTARIO AI LEGAL CHALLENGE (November 10)
The initiative aims to engage companies in a challenge to create affordable legal services solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence. The deadline for submissions to the challenge is November 10, 2017, with a top prize of $80,000. In addition to the main prize, the 6 companies that make it to the semi-final round will have access to mentors and other services offered through Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ).


MAKE A WILL – LAW AT THE LIBRARY SERIES (November 15) at 2516 Alta Vista, Ottawa
This information session will focus on wills and estates law. Attendees will learn about the importance of having a will, what happens in the absence of a will and the importance of powers of attorney.


17TH ANNUAL FRANCHISE LAW CONFERENCE (November 16) at 20 Toronto Street, Toronto
This Ontario Bar Association event  will include two special workshops and several roundtables and will explore trends and developments in franchise law.


LEGAL FUTURES INNOVATION CONFERENCE: CHANGING THE GAME (November 21) at 250 Bishopsgate, London
This conference in London will highlight major changes over the past 10 years that have occurred in law firms, the range of legal and non-legal services offered, technology and the Law and other related topics in the legal field.

Upcoming A2J-Related Events

SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS (SRL) AWARENESS DAY: (October 4th 2017) at Windsor Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Ottawa Law School, Queens Law School, and Western Law

  • SRL Awareness Day aims to increase awareness among law students of the self-represented litigant experience. Windsor Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Ottawa Law School, Queens Law School, and Western Law will host invited SRL guests in classes and during a midday panel.

For more information about SRL Awareness Day, visit the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) website here. Join the conversation taking place on social media for Self-Represented Litigants Awareness Day with #SRLawareness and #SRLawarenessday.


LEGAL INNOVATION ZONE: YOUTH ACCESS TO JUSTICE INITIATIVE at Ryerson University

  • Session 2A (youth only): October 4 at Ryerson University
    This event will focus on access to justice within the community and how to address access to justice issues.
  • Session 2B: October 25 at Ryerson University
    This event is open to all ages. Discussions will center on community access to justice issues and how those in the community can get help for their issues.
  • Session 3: October 30 at Ryerson University
    This session will explore where justice system users go for legal help and how existing resources can be made to work better.
  • Session 4 (Design Thinking): November 4 at Ryerson University
    Using themes explored in earlier sessions, this session will lead participants through the Design Thinking process to create prototypes for youth justice initiatives.

For more information on the Legal Innovation Zone Youth Access to Justice Initiative, visit their website here.


SASKATCHEWAN ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEK (October 16 to 21) at the University of Saskatchewan, College of Law

  • This is the 2nd annual Saskatchewan Access to Justice week. This event seeks to engage individuals and stakeholders in access to justice discussions and to bring to the forefront various initiatives that are contributing to improvements in A2J for Saskatchewan residents.

For more information on Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week, visit their website here. Follow the week’s events and conversations on social media using #SKA2J.


ONTARIO ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEK (October 23 to 27)

This is Ontario’s second annual Access to Justice Week. This year’s Access to Justice Week will include the following events:

  • Access to Justice Innovation (October 23) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
    This event will highlight innovative, community driven work taking place in the justice sector. The keynote presentation will be delivered by Justice Thomas A. Cromwell.
  • Improving Health, Improving Service (October 23) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
    This event will focus on mental health and other health risks that lawyers face.
  • The Millennial Influence (October 24) at the University of Ottawa
    This event will include discussions on the ways that millenials are influencing thinking on A2J and legal technology.
  • Paralegals and Access to Justice (October 25) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
    This session will centre on the contributions that paralegals are making to improving A2J.
  • Include. Inform. Inspire. (October 26) at the Law Society of Upper Canada
    This will be a public legal education and information forum.

For more information on Ontario’s Access to Justice Week, visit The Action Group on Access to Justice website here. Follow the week’s events and conversations on social media using #A2J2017.


2017 IT.CAN 21st  ANNUAL CONFERENCE (October 23 to 24) at 150 King Street West, Toronto

  • This 2-day conference will offer legal professionals and others an opportunity to network and learn about developments in technology law in Canada and abroad.

For more information about the IT.CAN Conference, visit the program page here.


ABA 2017 NATIONAL AGING AND LAW CONFERENCE (October 26 to 27) Silver Spring, Maryland

  • This 2-day conference will include an array of workshops on legal and policy issues, legal service delivery and recent developments related to elder rights, aging and law.

For additional information on the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2017 National Aging and Law conference visit their website here.


2017 FAMILY DISPUTE RESOLUTION INSTITUTE OF ONTARIO (FDRIO) AND FAMILY MEDIATION CANADA (FMC) CONFERENCE (November 20 to 21) in Toronto, Ontario

The 2-day 2017 FDRIO-FMC Conference will include panels and workshops on a range of topics including:

  • How to Fix the Family Court Crisis
  • Getting Past Impasse
  • Distance Mediation and Technology
  • Effective Advocacy in Mediation
  • Elder Mediation
  • Parenting Coordination Challenges
  • Grandparent Access Mediation
  • Domestic Violence and Power Imbalance
  • Income Determination for Support Purposes
  • Ethical Issues in Mediation/Arbitration

For more information or to register for the FDRIO-FMC conference, visit the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario website here.  Follow the conversation on social media with #FDRevolution.


SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGATION NETWORK (SRLN) 2018 CONFERENCE (February 22 to 23, 2018), San Francisco, California

  • The 2nd annual Self-Represented Litigation Network Conference will bring together a diverse group of players and users in the justice system to explore and create new tools for providing access to justice. Proposals for this conference will be accepted up to September 29.

For more information about Designing & Engaging the 100% Access to Civil Justice Ecosystem, the 2-day SRLN conference, visit their website here.

“Consumers 150: Consumer Engagement and Outreach” Workshop to take place on 18 September

Studies show that a significant percentage of Canadian civil legal problems are consumer problems. “Mapping the Front End: Legal Information Seeking Practices” is a two-year project funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario Responsive Grants Program that studies consumers’ everyday information seeking practices.  In so doing the project aims to connect consumers seeking and using information with available and pertinent resourses by increasing consumer information literacy, awareness and empowerment. It is the first comprehensive study of its kind in Canada. As part of this project (and #Consumers150), there will be a “Consumer Engagement and Outreach” workshop held at the University of Ottawa on 18 September 2017. Information about this workshop can be found here.

 

 

 

Access to Justice for Children – Child Rights in Action Conference

The Access to Justice for Children – Child Rights in Action Conference will be held in Vancouver on May 11-12, 2017. It is an innovative, multi-disciplinary Conference (an international award winner in 2015) that will share the latest law, knowledge and practice tips to help better support children affected by justice and administrative decision-making.  Here are a few reasons to attend this Conference:

  1. Young people are integral to this Conference and rarely do we hear their perspectives to inform our work
  2. You will be the first to be introduced to the Canadian Bar Association’s Child Rights Toolkit, an online resource developed by various legal professionals from across Canada that will be brought to life at the Conference – you can use this long into the future – and better understand key themes that cross cut all areas of the justice system in your practice such as:
    • Cultural Competency and what this means for all of us arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations;
    • Children living free from all forms of violence; and
    • Child participation essentials from the perspectives of psychology, social work, and law enforcement as well as child and family serving agencies.
  1. This Conference counts towards your professional education credits whether you are a lawyer, mediator, Hear the Child Roster member, social worker, or other relevant professionals.

You can attend either in person or via webinar. To learn more about this conference, or to register, visit the conference webpage here: http://www.cle.bc.ca/1387/special-invitation/

 

Information about this Conference was provided by the Conference’s co-chair.

Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward

Children’s Participation in Justice Processes: Finding the Best Ways Forward is a two-day national symposium scheduled for 15 and 16 September 2017 in Calgary.

Finding the Best Ways Forward aims to bring together a broad, multidisciplinary group of stakeholders to share information and to converse about how children’s voices are heard, how their interests are protected and how their evidence is received in justice processes. The symposium is intended to generate innovative proposals for policy reform, best practices, and recommendations for future research about children’s participation in justice processes. Subjects to be discussed at the symposium will include:
  • the role of children’s counsel;
  • the child in family law proceedings, child protection proceedings and youth criminal justice proceedings;
  • the practical and legal effect of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child within Canada; and,
  • best practices for children’s legal clinics, representing children, judicial child interviews, and child interviews by lawyers and mental health professionals.

The symposium is open to anyone with an interest in children’s participation in justice processes. Participation is welcome from: judges, lawyers and articled students; academics, researchers, graduate students and post-doctoral students; social workers, clinical psychologists, counsellors and other mental health professionals; and, government decision-makers, policy-makers and administrators. For more information, please visit: http://www.findingthebestwaysforward.com/.

The symposium’s call for papers closed on 7 April 2017.  Registration is open for this important symposium, and a block of rooms has been set aside at the downtown Hyatt.
Additional information about the symposium, and the pre-symposium conference on family law in Canada, can be found here: http://www.findingthebestwaysforward.com/about_the_symposium.htm

The symposium registration portal can be found here: http://www.findingthebestwaysforward.com/registration.htm

Early bird pricing is available until 3 June 2017.

Finding the Best Ways Forward is a joint initiative by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate Alberta, and has been funded by a grant from the Alberta Law Foundation.

Information about “Finding the Best Ways Forward” was provided by  the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family.

 

This post was updated on March 28, 2017

Civil Justice and Economics: A Matter of Value / Justice civile et économie : une question de valeur

The Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ), in partnership with the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ), invite you to this year’s “Civil Justice and Economics: A Matter of Value” conference.

This conference will offer a platform for Canadian judges, practitioners and those involved in the administration of justice to discuss their work through the lens of law and economics. The premise of this conference is that economic concepts can help us to understand the effects of what we do and could help us better assess the effectiveness, both economically and socially, of choices and decisions the actors in the administration of justice make.

Civil Justice and Economics: A Matter of Value will take place from October 5-7 at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa. To view the full program or to register, visit the conference page here.

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L’Institut canadien d’administration de la justice (ICAJ), en partenariat avec Le Forum canadien sur la justice civile (FCJC), vous invitent à participer à la conférence << Justice civile et économie : une question de valeur >> .

Cette conférence mettra une plate-forme à la disposition des juges canadiens, des praticiens et de ceux qui participent à l’administration de la justice pour examiner leur travail sous l’angle du droit et de l’économie. Cette conférence part du principe que les concepts économiques pourraient les aider à mieux évaluer les conséquences de leurs actions et l’efficacité de leurs choix et décisions, tant sur le plan économique que social. Pour télécharger le programme ou pour s’inscrire, cliquez ici.