There has been considerable study of legal aid in British Columbia, across Canada, and throughout the commonwealth countries. The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) commissioned a report from Melina Buckley, entitled "Moving Forward on Legal Aid," which was released in June 2010. It summarizes much of the existing research and suggests ways in which the CBA could be involved in taking the issue farther in Canada.
In June 2010, the British Columbia Branch of The Canadian Bar Association (CBABC) and five other organizations in British Columbia formed the Public Commission on Legal Aid in British Columbia. Those organizations include The Law Society of British Columbia, The Law Foundation of British Columbia, the British Columbia Crown Counsel Association, the Vancouver Bar Association and Victoria Bar Association. The Commission is headed by Commissioner Leonard T. Doust, QC, and has its own website at www.publiccommission.org.
The Commission held public hearings in 11 communities in British Columbia throughout the Fall of 2010, and received 73 written submissions and 136 in-person presentations from individuals, organizations and groups familiar with the legal aid system in British Columbia. The result of that work and input is provided in the Commission’s report, entitled "Foundation for Change," which was released on March 8, 2011. Read the CBABC’s response here.
The other studies listed below are some of those which were included in the Buckley report or included in submissions to, or material from, the Public Commission on Legal Aid in British Columbia. Links to these reports are included, with a brief introduction.
- Submission to the BC Chamber of Commerce regarding public engagement on legal aid, March 8, 2013
- B.C. Civil Liberties Association. "Justice Denied - The Causes of BC's Justice System Crisis." April 2012
- Sharon Matthews, CBABC President. "Making the case for the Economic Value of Legal Aid - Supplemental Briefing Note." February 2012
- Sharon Matthews, CBABC President. "Justice System Reform - Briefing Note." January 2012
- Sharon Matthews, CBABC President. "Making the case for the Economic Vale of Legal Aid - Briefing Note." January 2012
- The Lawyers Weekly. "Family Litigants Without Lawyers." The study documents growing challenges for the justice system. August 2011.
- The Alberta Legal Aid Review Committee. "2009 Legal Aid Alberta Review." November 2009.
- As with many provinces, including Ontario and British Columbia, Alberta has been experiencing a legal aid funding crisis which was only exasperated by the economic downturn of 2008/2009. This report sets out Alberta’s response.
- Buckley, Melina, LL.B., Ph.D., for the Canadian Bar Association. "Moving Forward on Legal Aid: Research on Needs and Innovative Approaches." Ottawa: June 2010.
- This report summarizes much of the research on legal aid, the Canadian Bar Association's involvement with the issue, and recommendations for moving forward with the issue.
- The Canadian Bar Association. "The Right to Publicly-Funded Legal Representation in Canada: Making the Case." Ottawa: The Canadian Bar Association, 2000.
- Cohl, Karen, and George Thomson. The Law Foundation of Ontario. "Connecting Across Language and Distance: Linguistic and Rural Access to Legal Information and Services." Toronto: December 2008.
- A predecessor to both the Trebilock and Ontario Civil Law Needs Project, this report assesses the impact of legal aid on, and its challenges for, remote communities and individuals separated by language or culture. Interestingly, much of the research builds on work from British Columbia. It is ironic that one of the findings of the report was that rural and remote communities needed regional legal aid offices. The report notes BC’s success with such offices (this is before 5 of the remaining 7 were closed) and recommends Ontario keep and build on its regional offices.
- Currie, A. "The Unmet Need for Criminal Legal Aid: A Summary of Research Results." Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada, 2003.
- Law Commission of Ontario. "Voices From a Broken Family Justice System: Sharing Consultations Results." Toronto: September 2010.
- Legal Services Society of British Columbia. "Legal Problems Faced in Everyday Lives of British Columbians." Vancouver, 2008.
- McEown, Carol, for The Law Foundation of British Columbia. "Civil Legal Needs Research Report." 2nd ed. Vancouver: March 2009.
- Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project, report: "Listening to Ontarians." Toronto: May 2010.
- This is the civil and family law counterpart to the Trebilock report, below, which mainly focussed on criminal law.
- The Perryman Group. "The Impact of Legal Aid Services on Economic Activity in Texas: An Analysis of Current Efforts and Expansion Potential," February 2009.
- This is one of a very few studies on the economic impact of expenditures on civil legal aid services. One of its key conclusions: "For every direct dollar expended in the state for indigent civil legal services, the overall annual gains to the economy are found to be $7.42 in total spending, $3.56 in total output (gross product) and $2.20 in personal income." (Page 3)
- Price WaterhouseCoopers. National Legal Aid [Australia], 2009. "Economic Value of Legal Aid. Analysis in relation to Commonwealth funded matters with a focus on family law."
- This is another cost/benefit analysis of legal aid expenditures. While the study makes clear it cannot quantify all the benefits of improved or expedited outcomes for family law litigants or their families; nevertheless, based only on a cost/benefit analysis of the family justice system itself, the report concludes, in part: "Direct legal assistance in relation to court and dispute resolution services for Family Law matters has a net positive efficiency benefit for the justice system. These benefits outweigh the costs of providing these services, ranging from a return of $1.60 to $2.25 for every dollar spent." (Page ix)
- Reid, G. with Jackson, D. and McEwon, C. "Clicklaw and Beyond: Public Legal Education and Information Materials in BC." Vancouver: The Law Foundation of British Columbia, 2009.
- Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, "Legal Aid in Canada: Resource and Caseloads Statistics," 2009/2010.
- According to Statistics Canada, legal aid expenditures are up 4% nationally for 2009/2010. Interestingly, though, it says expenditures average $23 per Canadian, which would put BC well below the average. Our funding currently amounts to about $16 per person in the province.
- Trebilcock, M. "Report of the Legal Aid Review." Ontario: Ministry of the Attorney General, 2008.
- The Attorney General of Ontario commissioned this report in response to a crisis in the criminal legal aid system and to job action taken by senior criminal defence lawyers in the province. It focuses primarily on criminal legal aid. The companion study is the Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project Report, "Listening to Ontarians," above.
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