The CBA announces the newest Legal Aid Leader Award Winner: Jeannette Savoie

  • May 18, 2016

The Canadian Bar Association’s Legal Aid Liaison Committee is pleased to announce Jeannette Savoie as a recipient of the Legal Aid Leader Award. Jeannette Savoie

Ms. Savoie is a staff lawyer with the Legal Services Board in the Northwest Territories (NWT) at their Community Legal Aid Clinic in Yellowknife. Without Ms. Savoie’s volunteerism and active engagement in expanding the role of the bar in servicing acute access to justice issues across the North, it is without question that legal aid services in the territory would be far worse than they are today.

The inspiration she provides to others to strive to improve access to justice for all makes us thrilled to recognize Ms. Savoie as a CBA Legal Aid Leader.

Jeannette Savoie Biography

Jeannette Savoie is a staff lawyer with the Legal Aid Commission of the NWT working at their Community Legal Aid Clinic in Yellowknife. Her work has been guided by the principle that access to justice is a fundamental human right. Her goal is to ensure that no-one with a legal problem should be left with no-where to turn – regardless of what community they are from or their economic background. Acting on this principle, Ms. Savoie has played a key role in expanding legal services and access to justice in the Northwest Territories. 

Since being called to the bar Ms. Savoie’s practice has focussed almost exclusively on family law/child protection matters and poverty law. While legal aid in the NWT has traditionally dealt with criminal law and family law/child protection matters; by her tireless advocacy, Ms. Savoie is responsible for creating a desire on the part of the Legal Aid Commission to expand legal aid services into the realm of poverty law matters, such as housing, income assistance, employment issues, pension and disability related matters and consumer protection. 

Ms. Savoie also noted that a large number of persons who could not afford legal services were nevertheless, ineligible for regular legal aid services. She worked with the Legal Aid Commission of the NWT to create a once-a-week drop-in clinic for persons who would not otherwise have access to legal aid services. The drop-in clinic provides basic legal advice and information on a consultative and pro bono basis to individuals who, by reason of either income or the nature of their legal matter are not eligible for legal aid, but who are nevertheless unable to retain a lawyer. As a result of the success of this program, a family law duty counsel service and a stand-alone poverty law program known as the Legal Aid Outreach Program will soon be available in the Northwest Territories.

In addition to her work at the clinic, Ms. Savoie has worked in partnership with aboriginal communities and the Legal Aid Commission to conduct fly-in poverty law clinics and other mobile legal clinics for people in nearly every community outside of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. In doing so, Ms. Savoie has increased access to justice for remote and isolated communities that have no resident lawyers.      

Ms. Savoie believes in promoting access to justice by actions rather than by words. Ms. Savoie’s dedication to access to justice and her efforts to expand the range of legal services available to low income, marginalized or geographically isolated populations make her a Legal Aid Leader.