|For immediate release||April 15, 2011|
Law Society concerned about people’s ability to access justice system
Vancouver – The Law Society of BC is using its influence where it can to try and make it easier for the average person to access the justice system.
“Judges and others in the legal community agree that access to justice is a serious issue that needs immediate attention,” said Law Society president Gavin Hume, QC. “You don’t need to go to law school to figure out that without access to justice there can be no justice. The Law Society is working to make a difference where it can.”
The Law Society has a plan to enhance access to affordable legal services by having supervised paralegals and articled students provide certain legal services at a cost lower than lawyers’ fees, and we are currently working with the courts to expand who can act as advocates for clients in a courtroom.
The Law Society is also encouraging lawyers to “unbundle” their services and offer to help clients with part of a case, instead of the entire case, which can reduce legal fees and cut down on the number of people going to court without a lawyer.
“The problems surrounding access to justice are complex and exist throughout the world. The work we’re doing isn’t a quick fix, but it is a step in the right direction toward helping people afford the legal help they need,” said Hume. “There’s a significant segment of the population who earn too much to qualify for free legal help, but too little to afford what it costs to go to court without considering drastic measures, such as a second mortgage, to fund their legal cases. I think it is safe to say that all those in the legal community agree that this is unacceptable.”
The Law Society is co-sponsoring Law Week, Access to Justice: The Changing Face of Law, which has events throughout BC, including Law Day on April 16. Law Week events will be held until April 27. Access to legal services has been a focus of the Law Society and remains a priority in its current strategic plan.
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 10,000 lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
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