Chief Justice of Canada to speak at Law Society public forum

The Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, will be the keynote speaker at the Law Society's public forum, Clearing the Path to Justice, on January 28, 2009.

The free forum, presented in partnership with CBC, the Legal Services Society, Access Justice and SUCCESS, will focus on issues surrounding access to justice, which the Benchers have stated is one of their key priorities.

Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada"Access to legal services is becoming more and more difficult for many individuals in our communities," said John Hunter, QC, President of the Law Society. "The increasing number of self-represented litigants and growing reliance on self-help guides is well known to us all."

Moderated by CBC Radio's Mark Forsythe, host of BC Almanac, the forum will explore some of the barriers to accessing justice and potential creative solutions to break down those barriers. 

Gordon Turriff, QC, the incoming President for 2009 said, "we are honoured to be able to bring the Chief Justice to speak to British Columbians about this important issue."

Turriff added that, "The forum will certainly be of interest to all people in the community. It will be an important part of the Law Society's public education program during the year of its 125th anniversary."

Other distinguished panelists, who will bring to the forum their unique perspectives on access to justice, are: Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit of BC; Lyall Knott, QC, of SUCCESS, which runs legal clinics for Korean and Mandarin speakers in conjunction with Access Justice; and Sue Talia, a private family law judge in California who is an expert on unbundling— an approach to making legal services more affordable and hence more accessible for the average person. She will be speaking to the impact of unbundling on access to justice issues in California and its affect on the number of litigants who go to court without a lawyer. All of this will be put in the context of the expansion of unbundling here in BC.

Immediately following the presentations there will be an opportunity for audience members to ask questions of Chief Justice McLachlin and the other panelists.

The public forum project began in 2006; this will be the Law Society's fifth forum. The original purpose in spearheading the project was to promote the rule of law among the community at large. The forums offer an opportunity to engage the public in discussion and engender a wider understanding and appreciation of the legal profession's role in free democratic societies and the Law Society's role in protecting the public interest in the administration of justice.


6:00 to 8:00 pm, January 28 2009

Registration, 5:30 pm


Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue,

Simon Fraser University

580 West Hastings Street

Vancouver, BC

To register:

Advance registration is now closed.

Additional seats will be made available on the night of the forum. We encourage you to attend.