Peer Review in Canada: Results from a Promising Experiment
Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 4, pp. 697-731, 2008
35 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010
Date Written: 2008
The end point in the access to justice debate often focuses on expanding the availability of legal services for the poor. This article argues that true access to justice requires greater focus on the quality of legal services provided. It tells the story of the introduction of peer review in Canada as a quality assurance tool for evaluating the legal work of a group of criminal lawyers. The article chronicles the various obstacles encountered in making even a very limited form of peer review a reality in Canada, where historically there has been skepticism about the peer review process in the legal profession. A key challenge was negotiating a baseline understanding of competence and quality. In doing so, the authors adapted the evaluative criteria used for peer review in England, Wales, and Scotland to develop a process-driven set of criteria. The authors conclude that peer review is a viable quality assurance tool for legal aid lawyers in Canada.
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