Summary Legal Advice Services in Alberta: Year 1 Results from the Community Legal Clinic Surveys and the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project – New Research from the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF) has published a new report entitled, Summary Legal Advice Services in Alberta: Year 1 Results from the Community Legal Clinic Surveys.

This report, which was prepared for the Alberta Law Foundation by Institute researchers, Joanne Paetsch and Lorne Betrand, examines the results of initial and follow-up surveys of 3,300 clients receiving services from legal clinics operated by Calgary Legal Guidance, Edmonton Community Legal Centre, Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic and Lethbridge Legal Guidance after one year of data collection, and has important implications for legal clinics across Canada.

Highlights from the study’s findings include:
  • The vast majority of clients reported that a 30-minute meeting with lawyer was sufficient to talk about their legal problem.
  • The most frequently discussed legals problems related to family law, landlord-tenant disputes and immigration.
  • Family law problems were more likely to be issues for clients who had completed some university or college than clients who had completed high school or less.
  • The vast majority of clients strongly agreed or agreed that they had a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities after their meeting at the clinic.
  • In the follow-up survey, clients who received a written summary of the advice they received were significantly more likely to strongly agree or agree that they had a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities after their meeting at the clinic.

Summary Legal Advice Services in Alberta: Year 1 Results from the Community Legal Clinic Surveys is available on the CRILF website.

 


On 18 April 2017, the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family formally launched The Alberta Limited Legal Services Project. The primary goals of the project are to determine whether limited scope legal services, also known as limited scope retainers and unbundled legal services, improve people’s ability to access justice, and to assess clients’ and lawyers’ satisfaction with limited scope legal services. Secondary goals include encouraging lawyers to provide these services as a component of their existing service offerings, improving public awareness of these services as an alternative to the traditional start-to-finish retainer, and creating a pool of lawyers trained and willing to provide limited scope services.

The project presently involves about 50 lawyers, with offices located throughout Alberta, practicing in almost every area of law. CRILF has focussed on family law, being the area of greatest need, and 40 roster lawyers provide service in this area. We will be surveying lawyers and clients alight through the data-collection phase of the project, which will wrap up in September 2018. The project is funded by a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario.

The project website can be found at http://albertalegalservices.com/index.html and features: a list of roster lawyers, sorted by name, by area of practice and by location of practice; information for clients; and, practice resources for lawyers, including a model retainer agreement, best practices, a training video and frequently asked questions. Project materials are available at no charge to anyone interesting in replicating or repurposing the project elsewhere.

Details in this post were taken from information circulated by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family.

Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report / Initiatives canadiennes d’accès à la justice Rapport d’étape annuel sur la réalisation des objectifs de développement de la justice and Working Data Document

The Action Committee’s “Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report” has been published and is available in both English and French on the Action Committee webpage. This Report uses the nine Justice Development Goals set out in the Action Committee’s “A Roadmap for Change” report as a framework to explore current initiatives and to identify areas for future work in access to justice in Canada. The Justice Development Goals Status Report was produced by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice.

In addition, the Forum has also published the “Status Report: Working Data Document”, which includes data from the “Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report”, as well as raw data from the recent Justice Development Goals Survey that is not discussed in the Report.

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

Professional Development series on Access to Justice

The Canadian Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee has developed a new professional development webinar series called, Better Client Service Series: Good for Clients, Good for Lawyers.

Three live 90-minute webinars are currently scheduled to take place as a part of this series. The themes are as follows:

  •  (March 7, 2017) Lasting Client Relationships: Intake Strategies that Build Long-Term Trust: Using client intake procedures to identify long-term needs and build client capacity;
  • (March 29, 2017) Made-to-Measure Legal Services: The Power of Limited Scope Retainers: Understanding the practical application of limited scope retainers and the associated professional responsibilities;
  •  (April 19, 2017) Intelligent Client Communications: Empowering Your Clients Through Clear Legal Writing: Drafting correspondence that optimizes clients’ understanding of their legal issues and helps them make effective decisions.

These webinars will be led by faculty who are well known in the access to justice arena.  More information about the webinar series can be found at the following link:  http://www.cbapd.org/details_en.aspx?id=NA_ona2j17.  Information about accreditation of the sessions for inclusion in continuing professional development hours is located here: http://www.cbapd.org/accreditation_en.aspx?id=NA_ONA2J17

Non-CBA members who work in Access to Justice are eligible for pricing discounts. Follow the links above for contact information and to learn more about this series.

 

Launch of a Major Project to Develop and Publish a Status Report on the State of Access to Justice in Canada / Lancement d’un grand projet visant à rédiger et à publier un rapport d’étape sur l’état de l’accès à la justice au Canada

As work to improve access to justice in civil and family matters continues to gain momentum across Canada, the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters is pleased to announce the launch of a major project to develop and publish a Status Report on the State of Access to Justice in Canada. The project will be carried out by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice.

The Action Committee was convened in 2008 by the Rt. Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada, in order to develop consensus and priorities around improving access to civil and family justice in Canada, while also encouraging cooperation and collaboration between all stakeholders in the justice system. In 2013, the Action Committee published Access to Civil & Family Justice: A Roadmap for Change, which contains 9 Justice Development Goals that, if accomplished, will help to address the large and growing access to justice gap in Canada.

The first step in the project is to do an in-depth survey of organizations working to improve access to justice. The survey instrument, which is now available, is built around the Justice Development Goals. The survey can be completed on-line by any organization, institution or body that defines itself as engaging in activities designed to improve access to justice.

The next step will be to compile and publish the survey results. This will occur in time for the Action Committee’s next annual meeting in March of 2017.

I urge every organization working to improve access to civil and family justice to complete and return the survey and to encourage other organizations in your network to do the same. The value of the status report depends on the response level and I hope that you will support this ground-breaking project.

~ The Hon. Thomas Cromwell

This article was originally published here:
http://www.justicedevelopmentgoals.ca/blog/2016/11/23/survey


Alors que les efforts pour améliorer l’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale se multiplient partout au Canada, le Comité d’action sur l’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale est heureux d’annoncer le lancement d’un grand projet visant à rédiger et à publier un rapport d’étape sur l’état de l’accès à la justice au Canada. Le projet sera mené par le Forum canadien sur la justice civile.

Le Comité d’action a été formé en 2008 par la très honorable Beverley McLachlin, juge en chef du Canada, pour établir un consensus et des priorités concernant l’amélioration de l’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale au Canada, tout en encourageant également la coopération et la collaboration entre tous les intervenants du système de justice. En 2013, le Comité d’action a publié le document intitulé L’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale : Une feuille de route pour le changement, lequel contient 9 objectifs de développement en matière de justice qui, s’ils sont atteints, aideront à combler l’écart important et grandissant en ce qui concerne l’accès à la justice au Canada.

La première étape du projet consiste à mener un sondage approfondi auprès des organisations qui travaillent à l’amélioration de l’accès à la justice. Le questionnaire du sondage, qui est maintenant accessible, repose sur les objectifs de développement en matière de justice. Le sondage peut être rempli en ligne par toute organisation, toute institution ou tout organisme qui se définit comme un participant à des activités conçues pour améliorer l’accès à la justice.

L’étape suivante consistera à compiler et à publier les résultats du sondage avant la prochaine réunion annuelle du Comité d’action qui aura lieu au mois de mars 2017.

J’incite fortement toutes les organisations qui travaillent à l’amélioration de l’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale ainsi que les autres organisations faisant partie de leur réseau à répondre au sondage. La valeur du rapport d’étape dépend du taux de réponse au sondage et j’espère que vous appuierez ce projet novateur.

~ L’hon Thomas Cromwell

Cet article a été publié pour la première fois sur:
http://www.justicedevelopmentgoals.ca/blog/2016/11/23/sondage

An International Review of Early Neutral Evaluation Programs and their use in Family Law Disputes in Alberta

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family has just released a report entitled: “An International Review of Early Neutral Evaluation Programs and their Use in Family Law Disputes in Alberta.”

Generally speaking, early neutral evaluation programs are court-based programs that require the parties to a dispute to attend a neutral third party evaluator early on the life of a lawsuit. At these hearings, the parties present their positions in the case and receive the feedback of the evaluator on the merits of those positions and the likely result of the lawsuit if it went to trial. The evaluator may assist the parties in settling all or some of the issues in dispute. However even when a full settlement is not reached, the hearing provides a useful reality check for litigants, helps to clarify the issues in dispute and prepares the parties for future judicial and extrajudicial dispute resolution processes.

Research conducted by The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family shows that these hearings result in high satisfaction rates for litigants, lawyers and evaluators. They promote settlement and the taking of positions supported by the law, and save litigants time, money and emotional stress as a result. They also provide savings to the justice system by reducing the number of contested applications and reducing the number and length of trials.

Based on these findings, the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family proposes that a working group be established to explore the implementation of a pilot early neutral evaluation project in Alberta. The Institute makes a variety of recommendations on the optimum characteristics of such a pilot project, drawn from their research, and on the issues the working group must address in its deliberations. In their view, the proposed pilot project aligns well with the objectives and guiding principles of the Reforming the Family Justice System Initiative presently exploring means of improving the family justice system in Alberta, and may be ideally suited for adoption and evaluation as a prototype by the Initiative.
The authors of the report are Joanne Paetsch (paetsch@ucalgary.ca) and John-Paul Boyd (jp.boyd@ucalgary.ca). Please address any comments, questions or concerns you may have to them.

In addition, this report pairs nicely with the conclusions reached in the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family’s 2014 report, “Self-Represented Litigants in Family Law Disputes: Contrasting the Views of Alberta Family Law Lawyers and Judges of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench” by John-Paul Boyd and Lorne Bertrand. This earlier report concludes that self-represented litigants tend to take unreasonable positions in family law disputes which ultimately reduce the likelihood that these disputes will resolve without a trial. When cases involving self-represented litigants do reach trial, they tend to require more adjournments and take longer to resolve as a result of self-represented litigants’ unfamiliarity with the rules of court, the rules of evidence and the law that applies to their cases, and the results self-represented litigants achieve tend to be worse than the results they would have achieved had they had counsel. An early neutral evaluation program which includes an objective appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ positions would likely be of great assistance to these litigants.

For more information about the other projects the Institute is engaged in or developing, please visit www.crilf.ca/current_projects.htm.

The Cost of Justice in Canada: Overview Report, Methodology and Survey

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) has released several new publications from their Cost of Justice research project, which examines the cumulative social and economic costs associated with everyday legal problems. Stemming from this project are the following recent publications:

1)   “The Everyday Legal Problems and the Costs of Justice in Canada: Overview Report”

Gathering data from over 3,000 survey respondents, the Overview Report, available on the CFCJ website here, looks at the public’s experience with the justice system and the various costs (ex: monetary, physical and emotional) that it imposes.

2)   “Design And Conduct of the Cost of Justice Survey” 

This publication sets out the specific methodology used by the CFCJ research team to collate the survey data. The method of sampling, data collection, and data processing are discussed at length here.

3)   “Everyday Legal Problems and Cost of Justice: Survey” 

The Cost of Justice Survey was structured to determine the number of respondents who had experienced 84 specific legal problems. The 84 problems were grouped into 17 types, with a section of the survey being devoted to each type. The Survey can be accessed here.

4)   “Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada: Fact Sheet”

This (updated and revised) Fact Sheet summarizes some of the key findings arising out of the Overview Report. The Fact Sheet can be accessed here.

Comparing the Views of Judges and Lawyers Practicing in Alberta and in the Rest of Canada on Selected Issues in Family Law: Parenting, Self-represented Litigants and Mediation

Comparing the Views of Judges and Lawyers Practicing in Alberta and in the Rest of Canada on Selected Issues in Family Law: Parenting, Self-represented Litigants and Mediation draws on the findings of a survey, conducted by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, Professor Nick Bala and Dr. Rachel Birnbaum, of the participants at the 2014 National Family Law Program in Whistler, British Columbia, and compares the views of Alberta respondents with those from the rest of Canada on a number of issues, including parenting after separation, self-represented litigants, access to justice and mediation.

The report notes some striking differences between the views and experiences of Alberta practitioners and those from elsewhere in Canada. Among other things, Alberta practitioners are more likely to: have cases resulting in shared custody or shared parenting; support the amendment of the Divorce Act to use terms such as parenting responsibilities and parenting time; have cases involving self-represented litigants; support mandatory information programs for self-represented litigants; and, support the use of paralegals to improve access to justice for self-represented litigants. Recommendations are made on subjects including: the amendment of the Divorce Act; the use of unbundled legal services to promote access to justice; the use of mandatory mediation where at least one party is self-represented; the provision of limited legal services in family law matters by paralegals; and, the use of standardized questionnaires by lawyers screening for domestic violence.

Comparing the Views of Judges and Lawyers Practicing in Alberta and in the Rest of Canada on Selected Issues in Family Law: Parenting, Self-represented Litigants and Mediation was written by Dr. Lorne Bertrand and John-Paul E. Boyd and can accessed through the Institute’s website here.

Access to Justice 101

Kathryn E. Thomson, PhD Candidate, UVic (Law), along with several AJRN listserv subscribers, have indicated publications that they would include on their “Access to Justice Top Ten Must-Read” list. There is a lot of valuable research and commentary worth revisiting or, for those of you who are new to the topic, discovering for the first time. Here are the recommendations:

  1. Genn, Hazel. Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think About Going to Law (Portland, Ore: Hart Publishing, 1999).
  2. Cromwell, Thomas A. “Access to Justice: Towards a Collaborative and Strategic Approach” (2012) 63 U.N.B.L.J. 38.
  3. Friedman, Lawrence M. “Access to Justice: Social and Historical Context” in Mauro Cappelletti and John Weiser (ed) The Florence Access-to-Justice Project (Milan: Doti.A.Giuffe Editore, 1978) Vol II, Book I.
  4. Macfarlane, Julie. “The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants” (Kingsville, Ontario: Self-Published Report, April 2013).
  5. Reports for the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, February 12, 2013. Online: Canadian Forum on Civil Justice: http://www.cfcj-fcjc.org/action-committee
  6. Wexler, Stephen. “Practicing Law for Poor People” (1970) 79(5) The Yale Law Journal
  7. Currie, Ab. The Legal Problems of Everyday Life: The Nature, Extent and Consequences of Justiciable Problems Experienced by Canadians (Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada, 2007)
  8. Hadfield, Gillian. “Higher Demand, Lower Supply? A comparative assessment of the legal resource landscape for ordinary Americans” (Feb. 2010) Fordham Urban Law Journal
  9. Australian Government – Productivity Committee – Access to Justice Arrangements (2014): http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/access-justice/report
  10. McEown, Carol. “Civil Legal Needs Research Report (Report prepared for the Law Foundation of BC March 2009, 2d ed) online: Law Foundation of British Columbia: http://www.lawfoundationbc.org/wp-content/uploads/Civil-Legal-Needs-Research-FINAL.pdf
  11. Brewin, Alison & Stephens, Lindsay. Legal Aid Denied (2004): http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2004-REPORT-Legal-Aid-Denied-Women-and-the-Cuts-to-Legal-Services-in-BC.pdf
  12. Brewin, Alison & Govender, Kasari. Rights-Based Legal Aid (2010): http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2010-REPORT-Rights-Based-Legal-Aid-Rebuilding-BCs-Broken-System.pdf
  13. Track, Laura, (in collaboration with Shahnaz Rahman and Kasari Govender. Putting Justice Back on the Map (2014): http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2014-REPORT-Putting-Justice-Back-on-the-Map.pdf
  14. CBA Access to Justice Committee. Reaching equal justice report: an invitation to envision and act (2013): http://www.cba.org/CBA/equaljustice/secure_pdf/EqualJusticeFinalReport-eng.pdf
  15. Roderick MacDonald’s work on access to justice in Canada – a list of his words can be found here: http://people.mcgill.ca/files/roderick.macdonald/macdonald-pubs.pdf
  16. Cohl, Karen & Thomson, George. “Connecting Across Language and Distance: Linguistic and Rural Access to Legal Information and Services” (2008): http://www.lawfoundation.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/The-Connecting-Report.pdf
  17. CLEO’s Centre for Research and Innovation host a research database through the PLE Learning Exchange website. The database is an annotated bibliography of research on public legal education and information (PLEI) issues from Canada and other jurisdictions, and also contains some papers on A2J generally where PLEI is referenced: http://www.plelearningexchange.ca/research/research-database/
  18. Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. “Access to Civil & Family Justice: A Roadmap for Change” (2013): http://www.cfcj-fcjc.org/sites/default/files/docs/2013/AC_Report_English_Final.pdf
  19. The National Self-Represented Litigants Project blog by Professor Julie Macfarlane houses many A2J articles: http://representingyourselfcanada.com/

Please note that this list isn’t exhaustive and additional suggestions are welcome. What publications would you include on your “Top Ten” list?

Send an email to communications@cfcj-fcjc.org with “AJRN subscribe” in the subject line to join the conversation taking place on the listserv!

Self-Rep Navigators

A Toronto-based lawyers group has launched the “Self-Rep Navigators” to direct legal services towards self-represented litigants. Described as “a hub for connecting self-represented litigants to supportive lawyers and high quality resources both online and offline”, Self-Rep Navigators have established a website at www.limitedscoperetainers.ca and list lawyers who will take clients on a limited scope retainer/ at fixed fees for civil and criminal matters, and those offering the same types of services to family clients.

Heather (hh@litigation-help.com) and Michael (mhassell@trialcounsel.ca) would like to hear from any other lawyers interested in being a part of this group.

You can find the full write up about Self-Rep Navigators here.