In an announcement issued on Tuesday, The Law Society of BC and Law Foundation of BC agreed to contribute $150,000 each to the fund.
“Access to Justice BC is not about supporting a prescribed set of actions or an intellectual concept. The aim is to bring about a culture shift by aligning justice system stakeholders in taking user-centred, collaborative and evidence-based approaches to access to justice innovation,” said Chief Justice Robert Bauman in a statement.
Bauman is chairman of the group. “It is about producing the kind of collective impact that will transform users’ experiences with the justice system,” he said.
Established in 2014, Access to Justice BC consists of a board of 30 members and aims to improve access to justice for family, indigenous and civil law for all communities in British Columbia. The group has expanded its efforts over the years, which is why it needs the monetary assistance to help build its infrastructure.
Access to Justice BC will receive $100,000 per year over the three years to fund initiatives.
The funding will specifically help cover costs associated with the group, such as the cost of a part-time strategic co-ordinator, communications, ways of engaging stakeholders and supporting them to bring about access to justice.
“The law society has a deep commitment to improving access to justice for British Columbians because it is a fundamental pillar for upholding the rule of law,” Herman Van Ommen, president of the Law Society of BC said in a statement. “The work of Access to Justice BC is critical as it brings together many stakeholders to work collaboratively to tackle challenges we face.”
Currently, initiatives Access to Justice BC supports include: an unbundling of legal services project, a family justice hub initiative and a presumptive Consensual Dispute Resolution initiative.
In 2008, the benchers approved 17 recommendations that would make it easier for lawyers to provide unbundled services to clients.
Some factions of the legal profession, such as family law practitioners belonging to Mediate BC, have embraced unbundling. Mediate BC offers an online tool kit on unbundling to help its members in the practice of family law.
“But unbundling can be used in every area of the law,” van Ommen told Legal Feeds in December. “The key to it is being clear what the lawyer will do and what they will not do.”