Envisioning justice

“If we don’t invent the future, others will,” CBA 1st Vice-President, and Air Canada in-house counsel Fred Headon told the audience at the CLC closing lunch on Tuesday.

That’s the motivation behind the CBA’s three-pronged initiative titled “Envisioning Justice” unveiled at this year’s CLC.

The first component is access to justice, and one of the big challenges there is just raising the public interest, says Dr. Melina Buckley. There are a lot of competing priorities — health care, taxation, etc., things that touch peoples’ lives every day.  Buckley says decades-old studies show a direct link between unresolved legal problems and poor health, so the trick will be to get the public and government to make the connection themselves. “Legal aid used to be funded out of Health Canada,” Dr. Buckley says. Investing in legal aid will actually save government money, she adds.

Fred Heaton addressed the second component of the initiative, examining the future of the legal profession. Essentially, he says, lawyers have to keep up with their clients and other stakeholders or risk losing them. We have to bring the full range of participants into the discussion from Day One, says Headon: lawyers, government, consumers of legal services.

Keeping up with client demand is also key when it comes to diversity, says Level Chan, who introduced the Measuring Diversity guide at the CLC. The business case is very clear with respect to small firms and large firms alike, says if you’re not getting the clients, you’re not making the money. Clients are driving the change.

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Posted in 2012 Canadian Legal Conference, Featured