Equal Justice Initiative

The Access to Justice subcommittee coordinates and integrates CBA activities to improve and promote access to justice for the poor and middle class in Canada. Within the framework of CBA policies, the subcommittee stresses government responsibility for a publicly funded legal aid system as its essential foundation, promotes pro bono service in the legal profession and supports innovative delivery options for legal services.

In 2013, the CBA published a comprehensive report setting out a vision for access to justice in Canada, Reaching Equal Justice: An Invitation to Envision and Act. The subcommittee is now working to bring its report’s targets, milestones, and actions to life. Current work includes:

  • Coordination of a working group with representatives from each branch to develop government relations strategies for promotion of the National Benchmarks for Public Legal Assistance Services. The Benchmarks were developed in collaboration with the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada, and are available with a complementary discussion paper on the Committee’s website.
  • Successful PD programming to inspire CBA members to adopt A2J innovations in their own practices, with webinars on limited-scope retainers, client intake strategies to build long-term trust, and empowering clients through clear legal writing. These webinars were held live in Spring 2017, and the recordings are available through the PD webpage.
  • Development of a guide that will assist law students in getting the most out of their experiential learning through reflective practices and development of greater access to justice consciousness.
  • Exploring ways to improve access to justice in rural and remote communities.
  • Promotion of the connection between social justice work and the profession’s professional responsibilities towards the public.
  • Continued participation in the National Action Committee, which serves as a federal-provincial network for a wide array of access to justice stakeholders.

The subcommittee’s greatest success is providing tools and resources to our members so that everyone can do their part in creating equal access to our justice system. The subcommittee welcomes ideas from Sections that wish to collaborate to develop a Legal Health Check, or otherwise move forward on targets identified in the Reaching Equal Justice report.