One of the most prominent purposes of public legal education is to improve access to the law and legal system. In the early years of PLE in Canada, this was referred to as ‘access to law’. But in the ensuing years, the phrase was changed to ‘access to justice’. Since access to the law does not ensure access to justice, this sleight of hand in the name change has created problems for everyone involved.
ACCESS to justice
For the purposes of this web resource, I either italicize or capitalize the word ‘access’ when I am referring to PLE or other work that helps people access current services and remedies or that makes those services and remedies more accessible. Much, though not all of that work calls for front end diversionary services (e.g. mediation), improving legal aid coverage, lowering the cost of services, fragmenting services (e.g. unbundling lawyers services), simplifying processes, using technology to reduce costs or facilitate self-help, and stimulating ‘innovation’ . These efforts have been spurred on by lawyers’ associations, like the Canadian Bar Associations and by judges, particularly justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Beverly MacLachlin was an early advocate of reforms in services.
Access to JUSTICE
PLE efforts to promote access to justice have tended to concentrate on promoting social justice.