Day: May 23, 2017

Access to Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan

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By Alan Kilpatrick

This talk was presented at the 2017 Saskatchewan Library Association Conference and the 2017 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference by Alan Kilpatrick, Reference Librarian, BA, MLIS.

Introduction

We all know that access to justice in Canada is inadequate.  Over 12 million Canadians will experience at least one legal problem in a three-year period.  Unfortunately, legal services are becoming increasingly inaccessible.  Our justice system has been described as too complex, slow, and expensive.  The justice system, overwhelmed by the increase in those representing themselves (self-represented litigants), is not meeting the needs of all Canadians.

A major barrier to accessing justice you may not be aware of is the inaccessibility of legal information.  Having access to legal information enables people to identify the full range of legal options available to them.  In some cases, having access to legal information allows people to resolve legal problems outside the court system altogether.  To improve access to justice, we first need to improve access to legal information.

A variety of organizations, such as the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Family and Civil Matters for example, have recognized gaps in the public’s access to information about the law.  At a time when legal information is readily available online, gaps still exist.  Not all Canadians have access to the internet and it can be extremely challenging to determine if online legal information is credible, reliable, or up to date.  There is a confusing lack of coordination among the organizations that provide public legal information and a strong need for intermediaries to guide the public to trustworthy sources of legal information.

This is exactly where the Law Society Library’s interest in legal information innovation developed.  Read the rest of this entry »