Research & Consultations

DIRECTIONS FOR REFORM

The Equal Justice Initiative is founded on extensive research and consultations. In preparing Reaching Equal Justice: An Invitation to Envision and Act, we consulted with lawyers, judges, government officials and politicians, law societies and law foundations, law students, legal aid leaders, marginalized communities and more. Our consultations resulted in a broad consensus on the directions for reform.

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We surveyed legal aid lawyers, community legal workers and paralegals. We consulted with the legal profession and justice system participants at conferences and meetings of the CBA Council. The CBA prepared five research and discussion papers which were circulated broadly to justice system participants for comments

We also integrated results from town hall consultations held in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario and consulted with various communities living in marginalized conditions in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Local lawyers and community partners were instrumental in helping to organize and facilitate these consultations.

Volunteer law students with Pro Bono Students’ Canada also conducted video interviews with people on the street across Canada.

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Created in 2011, the Access to Justice Committee identified four major barriers to progress on equal justice:

  • Shortfalls in information
  • Lack of political will and public awareness of the issues
  • Insufficient coordination and collaboration
  • Absence of tools to measure progress or to define what we mean by equal justice

While significant efforts and resources have been devoted to improving access to justice in Canada, we found the issue is plagued by lack of coordination, a strategic framework and common vision.

We launched the Equal Justice Initiative to help find solutions.

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The momentum for Equal Justice came together at the Envisioning Equal Justice Summit in Vancouver on April 25-27, 2013. The event brought together 250 lawyers, community advocates, judges, paralegals, law foundation and law societies, and members of the public to discuss the issues. The Summit underscored the idea that justice system participants can indeed work together to solve the challenge of equal justice. It was a turning point to start a different, more productive and coordinated conversation about access to justice.

This video highlights some of the participants from the Equal Justice Summit and their views on improving access to justice.

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The Equal Justice Summit culminated in a report called Reaching Equal Justice: An Invitation to Envision and Act, published in November 2013.The report summarizes the CBA’s extensive research about why change is necessary and lays out a vision, complete with tangible targets, about how to make that change real. Since 2013, the Committee has developed various resolutions and targets to keep the Equal Justice Initiative moving forward.