«Karen Cohl and George Thomson December 2008 Connecting Across Language and Distance: Linguistic and Rural Access to Legal Information and Services ...»
Paralegal regulation A key goal of our recommendations is to enhance the capacity of non-legal community organizations to provide basic legal information and referral (but not advice) to clients. In our consultations, we heard that some non-legal community organizations have become hesitant to provide legal information to clients, help them to fill out forms, or support them at tribunals since the Paralegal Regulation under the Access to Justice Act came into force on May 1, 2007.
It is in the public interest to regulate paralegals, but this impact on community organizations appears to be an unintended consequence. We have communicated the issue to the Law The Law Society of Upper Canada.
Society, and we are encouraged by the willingness to address it. Dealing with this matter seems to us to be a prerequisite for implementing our recommendations to enhance the role of community organizations as key access to justice partners.
Pro Bono Law Ontario Pro Bono Law Ontario is the first major, organized effort in this province to make available, in planned and innovative ways, the volunteer legal services of the legal community. Building on its progress to-date, Pro Bono Law Ontario (with support from the Law Foundation where required) could engage in activities to improve linguistic and rural access to pro bono legal
• Recruiting and facilitating the involvement of lawyers who are able to work in more than one language and matching them to clients who do not speak English or French
• Providing access to telephone interpretation when service in the client’s language is not possible
• Strengthening efforts to recruit pro bono lawyers to provide service in rural and remote areas of the province
• Providing specialist expert advice to those providing information and legal advice in rural communities
• Building strong connections between lawyers or law firms and agencies that are highly respected in the geographic and culturally specific communities they serve.
Appendix 1: Project Participants Acknowledgements A great many individuals and organizations dedicated to access to justice shared their expertise and experiences with us over the ten months of this project. We are grateful to them for giving us their insights and their valuable time. Our report is much richer for their input.
We would like to acknowledge the Trustees of The Law Foundation of Ontario for their vision in recognizing linguistic and rural access to justice as fundamental issues to be addressed and for commissioning this report. We are also grateful for the many ways in which the Foundation staff enabled our work. We would particularly like to acknowledge Barbara Stewart, whose superb organizational skills and tireless efforts enabled us to connect with so many people.
Finally, we would like to thank the members of our small project team for their talent and
dedication to the project:
Sam Kaufman (research) Dahlia Klinger (policy analysis and writing) Agnes Vanya (project planning, writing and editing) Informal discussions prior to formal consultation period From February through April 2008, we had informal discussions with over 70 individuals from the following organizations, either in person or by telephone.
During March and April, we convened three conference calls with the following groups to obtain ideas about challenges in providing linguistic and rural access to legal service for low-income clients.
• 15 community legal clinics (on rural and remote access to justice) • 8 community legal clinics (on linguistic access to justice)
• Legal Aid Ontario area directors from northern and southwestern Ontario
Participation in other events From April through October 2008, we took advantage of opportunities to consult or vet preliminary findings at meetings where we knew interested stakeholders would be present.
Learn, Grow, Connect Conference: proposed directions of the Linguistic and Rural Access to Justice Project during formal and Practicing Community Legal Education in a informal sessions.
Diverse Ontario Hosted by Community Legal Education Ontario and University of Toronto Faculty of Law, October 6 and 7. Attended by over 200 people “who develop and deliver information to help their clients understand their legal rights, and people interested in community legal education.” Participants provided input to
Additional informal meetings From June through November 2008, we had informal discussions to vet ideas with over 30 individuals from the following organizations, either in person or by telephone.
Appendix 2: Consultation Guide Discussion Questions Project premise and principles
1. Do you have comments on the premise or guiding principles for this project? Are there principles that you would add?
2. Are you aware of best practices that help people who do not speak English or French obtain legal information or services? Are you aware of best practices that help people who have a hearing or vision disability?
3. Which of the following approaches (or other ideas you may have) would be most useful to enhance access to legal information or services and why? How can we build on what already exists?
• multilingual materials and portals
• multilingual hotlines and referral services
• interpretation services
• outreach to specific linguistic and cultural communities
4. In what circumstances is it critical that public legal information materials be translated into other languages and alternative formats?
5. When can telephone language interpreters (or TTY lines) be used and when are inperson interpreters necessary?
6. Should there be a centralized language interpreter service? If so, what would be its role and how could it assist clients who are most vulnerable?
7. What supports are required to assist organizations working with interpreters?
Rural or remote access
8. Are you aware of best practices that help people living in rural or remote communities obtain legal information or services?
9. Which of the following approaches (or other ideas you may have) would be most useful to enhance access to legal information or services in rural or remote communities and why? How can we build on what already exists?
• use of community locations and partnerships
• outreach for specific groups on specific topics
• urban-rural partnerships
• legal or general telephone information and referral
10. If you think videoconferencing is a good idea, where could it take place? Are there circumstances when in-person contact is essential? What types of travel assistance might be necessary?
11. What supports do non-legal organizations need when they are called upon to provide legal information and referral to their clients?
Planning and collaboration
12. What type of collaboration or structure would best support improved access to legal
information and services? For example:
• What organizations should be involved, and how?
• What sources of funding should be available?
• How could The Law Foundation of Ontario act as a catalyst to support the collaboration or structure you recommend?
13. How should new processes or structures be evaluated?
Other ideas or comments
14. Do you have any other comments or recommendations to improve linguistic or rural access to legal information or services?
Appendix 3: Works Cited and Selected Bibliography *Cited in this report.
Abraham, Diana, and Doreen Weston. “Does the Absence of Public Policy Compromise the Professionalism of Community Interpreting?” 4th International Conference on Interpreting in the Community, Critical Link, Stockholm, Sweden, May 20, 2004.
Access to Justice Support Project. “Access to Justice Partnerships State by State.” American Bar Association and National Legal Aid and Defender Association, May 2005.
American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the Center for Pro Bono. “Rural Pro Bono Delivery - A Guide to Pro Bono Legal Services in Rural Areas.” American Bar Association, 2003.
Anderson, Jill, Ed. “Working together: multi-tiered pro bono relationships between law firms and community legal organisations.” National Pro Bono Resource Centre [Australia], 2003.
*Baker, Nythalah. “BC Rural Women’s Project: Final Report.” Vernon & District Women’s Centre Society, Status of Women Canada and the Canadian Rural Partnership, April 2003.
*Balakrishna, Anita. “South Asian Legal Clinic and the Struggle to Fit into Canada’s Liberal Democracy.” Forum for Advancing Access to Justice and Racial Equality - The Role of Ethno-Racial Legal Clinics in a Liberal Democracy. The Law Foundation of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada, Toronto, September 11, 2008.
*Banks, Cate, Rosemary Hunter, and Jeff Giddings. “Australian Innovations in Legal Aid Services:
Balancing Cost and Client Needs.” Socio-Legal Research Centre, Griffith Law School, Griffith University, June 2008.
*Bauder, Harald, Kerry Preibisch, Siobhan Sutherland, and Kerry Nash. “Impacts of Foreign Farm Workers in Ontario Communities.” Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2003.
*Beshiri, Roland. “Immigrants in Rural Canada: 2001 update.” Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 4., Statistics Canada, June 2004.
Biggar, Janet, for George St. Research. “Evaluation for Part V Pilot Projects.” Scottish Legal Aid Board, May 2003.
Blake Stevenson Ltd., with OPM. “Legal Information and Advice Provision in Scotland: A Review of Evidence.” Scottish Executive Social Research, Government of the United Kingdom, 2003.
*Burns, Ausra, David Bruce, and Amanda Marlin. “Rural Povery Discussion Paper.” Rural Secretariat Canada, November 2007.
California Commission on Access to Justice. “Language Barriers to Justice in California.” California Bar Association, September 2005.
*Community Legal Education Ontario. Recent research relating to access to legal information by diverse linguistic communities in Ontario (report forthcoming).
*“Citizenship and Immigration Canada” Facts and Figures 2006 – Immigration Overview:
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/statistics/facts2006/index.asp (accessed May 30, 2008).
*Currie, Ab. “The Legal Problems of Everyday Life: The Nature, Extent and Consequences of Justiciable Problems Experienced by Canadians.” Department of Justice Canada, 2007.
*Currie, Ab. “Civil Justice Problems and the Disability and Health Status of Canadian.” In Balmer, Nigel J., Alexy Buck, Pascoe Pleasence, Eds., Transforming Lives: Law and Social Process. London: The Stationery Office, 2007.
Doherty, Deborah. “Making Family Violence Law Information Available to People in Rural Areas: An Inventory of Promising Practices.” Department of Justice Canada, March 31, 2002.
*Echols, Robert, and Julia Gordon. “Recommendations and thoughts from the Managers of the Hotlines Outcomes Assessment Study Project.” Management Information Exchange Journal, Spring 2003.
Echols, Robert. “The Rapid Expansion of “State Access to Justice” Commissions.” Management Information Exchange Journal, Summer 2005.
Echols, Robert. “The Use and Effectiveness of Videoconferencing Equipment at Pine Tree Legal Assistance.” Equal Justice Consulting Services, December 2003.
*Family Legal Education for Women.”Consultation Sessions: Findings.” Presentation, April 2008.
*Focus Consultants. “Evaluation of LawLINE Enhancement Project.” Legal Services Society of British Columbia, July 27, 2004.
Focus Consultants. “Evaluation of the LawLINK Project Final Report, Revised.” Legal Services Society of British Columbia, June 7, 2005.
*Fosburys Expert-Conseil. “Community Interpreting in Canada.” Industry Canada, April 2007 *Galabuzi, Grace-Edward. “The Racialization of Poverty: Some reflections on the changing character of the experience of poverty in Canada.” Forum for Advancing Access to Justice and Racial Equality - The Role of Ethno-Racial Legal Clinics in a Liberal Democracy. Toronto: The Law Foundation of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada, September 11, 2007.
*Go, Avvy Yao-Yao. “Improving Access to Legal Clinic Services by Racialized Communities.” Forum for Advancing Access to Justice and Racial Equality - The Role of Ethno-Racial Legal Clinics in a Liberal Democracy. Toronto: The Law Foundation of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada, September 11, 2007.
*Grenier, S., S. Jones, J. Strucker, T.S. Murray, G. Gervais, and S. Brink. “International Adult Literacy Survey Learning Literacy in Canada: Evidence from the International Survey of Reading Skills.” Statistics Canada, Human Resources and Social Develpment Canada, January 2008.
Griffith, Adam. “What Are They Good For? Advice agencies’ experience of Community Legal Services Partnerships.” Advice Services Alliance [UK], March 2007.
*Halseth, Greg, and Laura Ryser. “Building Rural Capacity in the New Economy: Service Provision in Rural and Small Town Canada - Cross-Canada Summary Report.” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of British Columbia, September 2004.
*Hamdani, Daood. Engaging Muslim Women: Issues and Needs. Toronto: CCMW Publications, 2006.
Cited in Canadian Council of Muslim Women. “Canadian Muslim Women at the Crossroads:
From Integration to Segregation?” Canadian Council of Muslim Women, 2007.
*Harris, Roma M., C. Nadine Wathen, and Jana M. Fear. “Searching for health information in rural Canada: Where do residents look for health information and what do they do when they find it?” Information Research Vol. 12, No. 1 (2006): http://informationr.net/ir/index.html.
Healthcare Interpretation Network. National Standard Guide for Community Interpreting Standards.
Toronto: Healthcare Interpretation Network, November 2007.