In keeping with the ongoing reform to British Columbia’s justice system, the provincial government recently announced a $1.5-million plan to create a Justice Access Centre in Victoria next fall.
There are currently two other Justice Access Centres in the province; one in Vancouver and one in Nanaimo, B.C. But with this new centre, law students may be able to play a role.
The new centre will be co-located in the same building as the University of Victoria Faculty of Law’s Law Centre in downtown Victoria. The Law Centre houses the law school’s legal clinic, which provides legal assistance to individuals who can’t afford a lawyer.
“Our law students will benefit from collaboration with other legal professionals and close proximity to the courthouse. The co-location will enhance their legal education and the services they offer to the public,” said UVic law dean Donna Greschner.
Justice Access Centres help those with family or civil law matters navigate the justice system. One of its goals is to find alternative dispute resolutions for clients and reduce the number of cases that go to court.
“Justice Access Centres are part of our government’s strategy to divert disputes out of courtrooms. Our experiences with the centres in Nanaimo and Vancouver have shown us that giving families quicker, affordable legal solutions can significantly reduce the need to go to court,” said B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond in announcing the plan.
“We know stable, safe communities rely upon strong families as their foundation. We want south Island families to know help is available if they have legal or related issues that they need to discuss with a lawyer or family justice counsellor,” she said.