October 25, 2021
Welcome to part one of the latest edition of the Access to Justice eBulletin. The aim of this eBulletin is to highlight access to justice issues within Alberta and promote awareness of key pro bono initiatives to the greater legal community. Access to justice is one of four strategic goals in our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. Working within our regulatory mandate, we want to promote affordability and availability of legal services and remove regulatory barriers where possible.
Alberta Access to Justice Week
October 25 to 31 marks Access to Justice Week in Alberta.

Access to Justice can mean many things. It can mean getting the information necessary to know one’s legal rights and responsibilities. It can mean having meaningful access to the courts or another dispute resolution system when faced with a conflict. It can mean being able to retain a lawyer to represent one’s interests. It can mean having a say in the content of the laws that govern us. It can mean all this and more.

There are many groups and individuals who work hard every day to provide greater access to justice for Albertans. This week, they will be hosting events and activities across the province highlighting the importance of justice, the barriers to accessing it and the ways we can work together to break down those barriers.

View the Access to Justice Week website from the Canadian Bar Association Alberta Branch (CBA - Alberta) for more information on access to justice and the events occurring this week.
A Win for All: Return on Investment in Alberta's Justice System
The CBA - Alberta is hosting an access to justice webinar on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The webinar is free to members and non-members alike.

In early 2020, the CBA - Alberta undertook public opinion and economic research about the desire for and value of increased investment in our justice system and the results are now in. Join CBA - Alberta Agenda for Justice and Advocacy Committee Chair and CBA - Alberta past president (2018-19) Frank Friesacher as he breaks down the results of this study and what it means for improving access to justice in Alberta.

For more information and to register to attend, visit the CBA - Alberta website.
Lawyer Referral Service Update
Written by Cori Ghitter, Deputy Executive Director and Director of Policy and Education, Law Society of Alberta

Looking for the right lawyer to help with legal issues can be overwhelming and that is why many Albertans turn to the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), currently operated by the Law Society of Alberta.

After many successful years being run by Calgary Legal Guidance, in March 2020, the Law Society took LRS back in-house. The goal in doing so was, in part, to better understand how the service meets the needs of the public. Through the first year of in-house operation at the Law Society, more than 17,000 Albertans contacted LRS and were matched with lawyers who participate in the program.

LRS assists members of the public in finding a lawyer. Members of the public can contact the LRS via phone or email, advise our customer service representatives of their legal issue and then receive contact details for up to three lawyers in the relevant area of law. It is up to the member of the public to reach out to the lawyers to determine if the lawyers are a fit for their legal issue. It is important to note that LRS is a matching service, not a free legal service.

In 2021, the Law Society launched a survey to gather input from key stakeholders who have accessed the service as well as the lawyers who participate. Notably, surveys were sent out to members of the public that had accessed LRS in the past year and participating lawyers in the program.

Read the full article to learn more about the survey results and next steps for the Law Society.
Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives
An Online Course Offered by the Justice Sector Constellation

Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives is a free, interactive online module provided by the Justice Sector Constellation. The module describes:

  • the context of poverty in Canada, including who is most likely to live in poverty;
  • the causes of poverty, including individual attributes, social connection, life stage, systemic factors and disruptive events;
  • the impacts of poverty, including food security, health, housing, relationship and social/political impacts; and
  • how being vulnerable to poverty can contribute to vulnerability to legal issues, and how having legal issues can contribute to vulnerability to poverty.

The module will equip you to better serve your clients and communities through an understanding of the issues that arise at the intersection of poverty and the legal system.

The module includes learning outcomes, discussion questions, a reflective journal to encourage interaction with the module and a knowledge check. You may print out a certificate of completion once you have successfully passed the knowledge check (70 per cent correct required). The module takes approximately two to 2.5 hours to read, excluding time you may spend with the reflective journal.

The module may also be used in an educational or group setting. To support those efforts, an Instructor’s Resource includes additional activities that can be used to encourage engagement with the content of the module.

Both the module and the Instructor’s Resource are free to you, thanks to funding from the Catalyst Fund of Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy.

For other resources and more information about the Justice Sector Constellation, visit their website.