Momentum for change to improve access to justice continues to build
by Timothy E. McGee
Putting personal politics aside, a positive outcome of the May provincial election is that there will hopefully be continued momentum for initiatives aimed at improving access to justice.
Given several recent announcements and events, it is clear the many stakeholders in our justice system, including government, are moving beyond simply talking about the issues.
In April, a memorandum of understanding was signed by then Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond and the three levels of judiciary in BC. The purpose is to describe the roles and responsibilities of the Attorney and the Chief Justices in the administration of the courts. I believe the memorandum demonstrates that a constructive and informed approach to reform is preferred by those who play essential and vital roles in the justice system.
Other government initiatives already underway and identified in the White Paper on Justice Reform are also expected to continue to be developed, presumably with the consultative process that has largely been used by the ministry in recent years.
Beyond government, the April Canadian Bar Association’s Envisioning Equal Justice Summit in Vancouver was very well attended, by lawyers, judges and other parties involved in the justice system throughout Canada and internationally as well. The focus on the drive to realize material and positive progress in improving access to justice was encouraging.
On the ground level, the Law Society continues to develop programs and make changes that are intended to be part of a much larger solution to the access to justice issue.
In addition to continuing to communicate the rule amendments that allow articled students and designated paralegals to provide legal advice, this month we are launching the Aboriginal Lawyers Mentorship Program. Based on work done to date, we expect this to be well received.
As always, any comments or suggestions can be directed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.