Rule of Law: Legal Aid for Marginalized Groups in China


  •  In September 2011, the CBA, in partnership with Legal Aid Ontario and Community Legal Education Ontario, has signed a contract with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD ) for a major development project: Rule of Law: Legal Aid for Marginalized Groups in China.  The project will work to build the capacity of China’s National Legal Aid Centre (NLAC) and to strengthen legal aid in three provinces – Jilin, Liaoning and Yunnan – with a special focus on improving access to justice and due process for women and men from marginalized communities, such as ethnic minorities and migrant workers.
  • This project will build on CBA’s and LAO’s previous work in The Canada-China Legal Aid and Community Services Project (2004-2009).
  • Originally a six year project, LAMG has been substantially revised following DFATD ’s decision to end its China program and terminate all DFATD -based development cooperation assistance in China by December 31, 2013.  While the areas of project intervention remain the same, project activities have had to be adjusted to fit the new shorter time frame. The overall project goals remain the same, but project results will be more limited than originally planned.


  • Project started with a high level study tour to Canada in June 2012, with senior legal aid staff and government justice officials from the national government and the three pilot provinces. The delegation were exposed to the wide range of legal aid services funded by LAO and public legal education, including a trip to Thunder Bay and Nishnawbe-Aske Legal Services to see the Ontario approach to delivery of legal aid services to remote aboriginal communities. The delegation also met with judges, administrative tribunals and the Ministry of the Attorney General to better understand the broader context within which legal aid operates.
  • In-country activities started in September 2012 with training programs in the pilot provinces on community-based legal aid needs assessments. These assessments were carried out in six pilot counties and needs assessment reports prepared for each jurisdiction.
  • In February/March 2013, project staff assessed training needs for legal aid service providers and training capacities of the three pilot provinces, introducing Internet-based surveys of lawyers and legal workers as a methodology.
  • In April 2013, project staff delivered a workshop on Canadian and international best practices for quality assurance in legal aid services, based on the experiences of Legal Aid Ontario, for the NLAC of china and the Legal Aid Department of the Ministry of Justice.
  • Also in April, nine officials of the NLAC and the pilot provinces attended an intensive training program in best practices for production of Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) hosted by Community Legal Aid Ontario. Following on this training, CLEO will continue to support and mentor production of PLEI materials in China.
  • The intensive PLEI training was delivered by CLEO in Jilin province in June 2013.  
  • In July 2013, a second Canadian study tour was held. Delegates met with legal aid service providers in Halifax and Toronto where they saw different mechanisms of legal aid service delivery (including innovations like call centres) and models to suppport training and development of legal aid workers. Delegates met with judges, legal aid clinics and Ministry officials to understand how stakeholders work together to provide quality legal aid services.
  • In August 2013, CLEO staff delivered training to NLAC in Beijing on the effective use of webinars and online tools to deliver PLEI.
  • In September 2013 workshops were held in each pilot province to introduce legal aid training managers (and other members of the provincial an national Legal Aid Centres) to the principles of adult learning and how to design effective training programs. The workshops were the foundation for production of a distance training module and a training program design tool kit.