University of North Texas Open Access Symposium 2019

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By Melanie Hodges Neufeld, Director of Legal Resources and Communications 

The tenth annual University of North Texas (UNT) Open Access Symposium was held May 17-18 at UNT Dallas College of Law. The theme this year was “Is Open Access an Answer for Access to Justice?” and featured presentations and interactive sessions led by legal scholars and practitioners from Harvard, Duke, and UNT and representatives from our very own Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information project (SALI).

I was proud to present “The Role of Library Staff in Improving Access to Legal Information” with my SALI partners Brea Lowenberger, Access to Justice Coordinator and Director of CREATE Justice, University of Saskatchewan and Kim Hebig, Library Director, Wheatland Regional Library.

The Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information (SALI) partnership was formed to highlight the role of libraries as vehicles for access to legal information, and the role of library staff as intermediaries in the provision of legal information in their communities. SALI emerged in 2016 out of the Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice, a collaboration among Saskatchewan justice stakeholders based in the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan. Dean’s Forum participants identified limited access to legal information as one of the barriers to full and equitable public participation in the justice system.

Since 2016, the SALI partnership has undertaken activities to meet the objective of improving access to legal information, specifically through engaging public library staff as mediators of resources to best serve their communities. SALI partners include representatives from the provincial Public Legal Education Association, Law Society libraries, University Library, College of Law, Ministries of Justice and Education, Pro Bono Law, and public libraries across Saskatchewan.

This presentation focused on the opportunities available and challenges faced in pursuing the goal of increasing public access to information in a jurisdiction with a small, widely-dispersed population, including a high proportion of Indigenous people and many newcomers to Canada. Topics included SALI activities such as a public engagement campaign; capacity-building opportunities for public librarians; a collections list; data collection and analysis projects; and writing projects that engage law students and faculty in increasing the amount of legal material produced with the public in mind.

We were pleased to share our experiences and learn from the other participants. Please see the UNT Open Access website for more information about the sessions and the Law Society website for more information about the SALI project.

SALI project partners
From L-R: Kim Hebig, Library Director, Wheatland Regional Library; Melanie Hodges Neufeld, Director of Legal Resources and Communications, Law Society of Saskatchewan; and Brea Lowenberger, Access to Justice Coordinator and Director of CREATE Justice, University of Saskatchewan.

Lady Justice Reception and Awards

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Posted on behalf of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan will host its Lady Justice Reception and Awards on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at Prairieland Park.

We will toast and celebrate women’s achievements by presenting our annual Lady Justice Awards to three women who are making a difference in our community: Colleen Dell, Jessie Buydens, and Peggy Vermette. 

The evening will feature performances by The Northwest Kid and Eekwol and T-Rhyme. We will be showcasing handmade ribbon skirts for auction made through our programming.

We also have two big fundraising goals to reach! Each year we drive thousands of miles to visit women in prisons and we are in need of two new vans for safe and reliable transportation. You will also be able to support our Storybook Program Literacy Project, which helps build connection between criminalized women and their children.

We are incredibly proud of the women that we work with and for. We kindly ask for your support in their journey. This will be a great event that you won’t want to miss!

Tickets are $75 and can be purchased here. If you are not able to attend we ask that you consider supporting us with a tax-deductible donation.

CanadaHelps is a registered charity | BN 896568417RR0001

Weekend in Review: Family Law Chambers Advocacy Workshop

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By Jakaeden Frizzell, CPD Program Coordinator

On Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 the Law Society hosted the first ever Family Law Chambers Advocacy Workshop. The workshop featured eight faculty members and twenty-four participants. Our esteemed faculty is listed below:

Chair: The Honourable Madam Justice D.L. Wilson
The Honourable Mr. Justice M.T. Megaw
The Honourable Madam Justice G.V. Goebel
The Honourable Mr. Justice D.J. Brown
Greg Walen, Q.C. (Sharfstein Gibbings Walen & Fisher LLP)
Sherry Fitzsimmons, Q.C. (McDougall Gauley LLP)
Sean Sinclair (Robertson Stromberg LLP)
Jill Drennan (Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission)

In advance of the workshop, attendees were sent a binder of workshop materials and asked to submit an Affidavit and a Notice of Application based off the fact pattern provided. The faculty reviewed these and prepared feedback to be delivered at the workshop.

Day one began with an opening plenary, including an overall perspective about Chambers advocacy generally from Justice Goebel and Justice Megaw, a discussion of how to handle judges and opposing counsel from Sherry Fitzsimmons, Q.C. and Greg Walen, Q.C., and Justice Wilson facilitated a discussion on issue identification. The remainder of the morning focused on feedback from the faculty on the submitted assignments, first in a group setting reviewing anonymized Notice of Applications, then in small group settings discussing Affidavits. Participants really appreciated the detailed feedback gained from these sessions and they were able to follow up with questions in a full group Q&A session after lunch.

The final session of the day featured two rounds of mock oral submissions from Greg Walen, Q.C. & Sherry Fitzsimmons, Q.C. and Sean Sinclair & Jill Drennan, with Justice Wilson presiding. Participants were able to learn by example from experienced counsel and use some of these cues to prepare their own oral submissions for the following day. A group dinner was held at the Hotel Saskatchewan Tea Lounge and the group had the pleasure of listening to Aaron Fox, Q.C. (McDougall Gauley LLP) as he shared experiences and tips related to civility learned throughout his storied career.

The bulk of Saturday gave participants an opportunity to deliver their own oral submissions with a small audience and feedback from faculty to follow. Attendees described this as one of the most valuable parts of the workshop. The day ended with two panel discussions about oral submissions and memorandums of law.

On behalf of the Law Society, I would like to thank everyone involved for contributing to such a successful and educational event. Special thanks go to the Planning Committee for developing the materials, Sean Sinclair for coming up with the idea for this workshop, Justice Wilson for chairing the weekend, and Andrea Johnston (Director of Admissions and Education) for her dedication in developing this program. Stay tuned for the next iteration of the workshop and be sure to register quickly as spots will fill up fast!