The Shifting Frontiers of Law: Access to Justice and Underemployment in the Legal Profession
Osgoode Hall Law Journal 54.4 (2017): 1091-1116
26 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2017
Date Written: June 28, 2017
The article examines two interrelated issues attracting attention from the legal academy, the profession, and policy makers:
i) the crisis of access to justice among ordinary Canadians, and
ii) the increasing number of qualified and underemployed lawyers.
This article sets out to understand the interrelated factors underlying these two trends, and explores long-term, accessible solutions to address the misalignment between the supply of underemployed law graduates and a demand for affordable legal services. In response to these twin problems, we examine how legislative reform, open source networks, and the automation of legal work can allow lawyers to create more cost-effective delivery mechanisms for legal services, while allowing clients to choose, and work with, lawyers in a more informed manner. While the alternatives we explore are a radical shift from the traditional methods of the legal profession, they are in line with emerging technological realities, and are realistic market solutions to the access to justice problem. To conclude, we focus on the legal academy’s important role in motivating budding lawyers to think critically about how the legal profession, as a social institution, can be ameliorated to ensure that claims for justice do not fall outside of its purview.
Keywords: rule of law, access to justice, legal education, technology, innovation, automation, a2j, economic development, entrepreneurship
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