— LSAT PREParation (@LSATPreparation) December 31, 2013
Much has been written lately about the inability of Canadians to afford skyrocketing legal fees. The situation is so dire that our top judge, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada, has said that Canada is “increasingly failing in our responsibility to provide a justice system that [is] accessible, responsive and citizen-focused.”
In short, Canadians face an unprecedented crisis: a gulf between our shared belief that in a democracy, access to justice is a fundamental right, and the growing reality that only the rich can afford a lawyer.
The legal profession has been searching for ways to make our services more affordable. One idea that has a lot of support in theory – but that hasn’t gained as much traction as it should in practice – is making better use of students.
The more than 12,000 students currently studying at law schools in this country are an untapped resource which, if properly utilized, could make a dramatic difference.
A recent report from a committee chaired by Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell is calling on the legal profession, the judiciary, and governments to overhaul the Canadian justice system.
Among other things, the report calls for the expansion of civil and family pro bono, or “free of charge,” programs – including those delivered by law students.
Canadian law students are an important group to assist in access to justice. But, an even better resource – waiting to be used – is the large number of lawyers trained outside of Canada. Many of them are currently in the NCA program, becoming licensed to practise law in Canada.
NCA students are a fantastic resource that is: ready, willing and able to provide access to the legal system in Canada!