From the President

Re-Thinking the Future of Access to Justice

  • December 01, 2014
  • Alex A. Shorten

Three months, three projects, three goals – A review of Q1

British Columbia Access to Justice Commission

The CBABC joined a Committee of Stakeholders interested in setting up an Access to Justice Commission in BC along with the Law Society of BC, the Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, the Legal Services Society, the Law Foundation and Access Pro Bono, to name just a few. The establishment of a Commission was recommended by the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters Report.

Meetings were held to discuss the process, desired outcomes, mandate, functions, values, scope, governance and funding for setting up the Commission. I expect that the finalization of the outcomes of this process will be shared with the legal community soon and subject to funding the Commission will be up and running soon.

CBA Legal Futures Initiative

In August 2014, CBA released FUTURES – Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada.

To quote from the Executive Summary in the report, “The key to establishing a viable, competitive, relevant and representative legal profession in Canada in the future is innovation – not just the development and adoption of technology-driven platforms and service delivery models, although they are critical, but also through new ideas about how lawyers are educated and trained, and how they are regulated to maintain professional standards while protecting the public.”

The report makes 22 recommendations and I invite you to read the summary of the recommendations. I recently spoke with Fred Headon, National CBA Past President, who leads the Futures Initiative, and asked what’s next for the project. His reply was as ambitious as the report itself. Headon said, “Bringing to life the recommendations – be it through changes to the regulation of the profession, new PD, new advocacy initiatives, new ways to support members – is our overarching focus as we try to help our members understand the sources of changing client expectations and to flourish in the new realities in which we work.”

Project Re-Think

The CBA Board has approved this vital project, appointed a small diverse Steering Committee of board members, other qualified CBA members and staff, and approved the hiring of an outside consultant and overall budget. In other words, the work has begun. At our request, Anna Fung, QC of Vancouver has been appointed to the Steering Committee to represent BC’s interests.

The scope of the review includes every aspect of how the CBA is structured, directed, governed, makes decisions, operates, provides value, communicates, manages relationships and defines accountability.
The Board has determined that “everything is on the table” and there is no such thing as a “sacred cow.”

There will be three phases: understanding, concept visualization and strategic vision design.

The team will start by gaining a meaningful understanding of who and what matters by interviewing members and non-members to determine needs. This will form the basis for the second phase where the CBA Board will conduct a workshop that will first co-create concepts and prototypes. These prototypes will then be built by a process of collaboratively working with stakeholders in a series of five regional workshops along with a virtual community. The outcomes of these workshops will form the basis for the Strategic Business Design and Activation phase. This phase will align organizational efforts with strategic choices and is intended to ensure optimal investments for long-term value creation, including the defining of a new governance model that supports the new mission and business model.

I look forward to updating you on the progress of all three ambitious and important projects throughout the year.

Alex Shorten signature

Alex A. Shorten
president@cbabc.org