Symposium to tackle access to justice

More and more Canadians are facing legal problems but cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent them. In response, Western’s Faculty of Law is bringing together key stakeholders to discuss solutions to this growing issue of equal access to justice.

The Access to Justice Symposium will be held 2-5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, in Faculty of Law building, room 36.

“The legal profession must deal with this complex challenge at both the national and local levels,” said Doug Ferguson, director of Western’s Community Legal Services Clinic.

The symposium will feature two keynote remarks. Fred Headon, Canadian Bar Association (CBA) president, will speak on the CBA report on access to justice and its impact on law schools. Tom Conway, Law Society of Upper Canada treasurer, will address the role of the Law Society.

Two panels discussing access to justice issues will feature former Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley and Legal Aid Ontario CEO Bob Ward, as well as local judges and lawyers.

“This is a critical moment in the fight for equal access to justice,” Ferguson said. “The legal profession and law schools need to take action.”

Other panelists include: Pascale Daigneault, Ontario Bar Association president; Nikki Gershbain, Pro Bono Students Canada national diector; Michael Lerner, Law Society of Upper Canada bencher; Janet Froud, Legal Aid Ontario district area director; Justice Jeanine Leroy, Ontario Court of Justice; and Bill Woodward, Middlesex Law Association president.

Prior to the symposium Western Law will host a grand re-opening of the new Community Legal Services (CLS) clinic from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Faculty of Law building, room 126.

“For many low-income persons, CLS provides the only means to achieve justice,” Ferguson said. “Last year, our students worked on more than a 1,000 files. We’re very proud of the work we do and our new, expanded clinic space will help us to do even more to assist low-income Londoners.”