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Access to Justice

To quote The Action Group on Access to Justice (“TAG”), “The justice system is inaccessible to far too many. We must find better, more affordable and timely ways for people to manage and resolve their legal problems. No single organization has the answers. Collaboration, innovation and broad participation is required.”

How can we help while not increasing the risk for lawyers? This issue of LawPRO Magazine investigates current approaches to facilitating better access as well as how the insurance program is designed to facilitate certain access to justice initiatives.

For years LawPRO-approved Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) programs have had special status under the primary insurance program. LawPRO and PBO worked together to develop guiding principles to help manage our relationship and smooth the way for efficient and timely approval of programs. Details of the process are described in Nora Rock’s article, “Lawyers: (Safely) make your own dent in the affordability barrier.”

In addition to pro bono work, many lawyers assist Ontarians to access justice by practising in an unbundled fashion, also known as accepting limited scope retainers. There is nothing in the insurance program policy that penalizes or that should otherwise discourage lawyers from this approach to helping clients. LawPRO’s only concern is that lawyers structure the retainer appropriately and ensure that the client understands the implications of the lawyer doing only part of the work. Ian Hu’s article gives many examples about how this is being accomplished in the field.

As I see new lawyers coming out of law school, I often wonder what the next 20 to 30 years of their working lives has in store for them. How different will it be from my experience? Wholly different, I imagine. Dan Pinnington discusses a few new and upcoming technologies that might bring those differences about in his article, “Artificial intelligence and the ‘self-driving’ lawyer: Better access to justice and lower claims?” Seeing the profession evolve and expand is an exciting adventure for all of us.

LawPRO is participating in a dialogue about A2J, the risks thereunder, and lawyer concerns. The most important goal for us is to ensure insurance issues are considered at an early stage. That way, collaboration truly can be the name of the game.