Can law librarians have a role in increasing access to justice?

Post by Dom Bautista, Executive Director of the Law Courts Center 

Can law librarians have a role in increasing access to justice?

Yes they can!

Amici Curiae can certainly use  the expertise of librarians, starting with completing the legal basis section of the Notice of Civil Claim (Form 1) and Notice of Family Claim (Form F1) for self-represented litigants.

Amici Curiae clinics, which is now in its 5th year of operation, provide assistance to self-represented litigants by drafting their court forms. Amici Curiae volunteers are comprised mostly of paralegals and legal assistants. Their work is supervised by duty counsel. No legal advice is given in its clinics.

Amici Curiae operates 6 clinics (details: http://lawcourtscenter.camp7.org/page-1770376):

  • BC Court of Appeal;
  • Supreme Court of BC;
  • BC Human Rights Tribunal;
  • Temporary Foreign Workers Uncontested Divorce Application;
  • Battered Women’s Support Services; and
  • Atira Women’s Resource Society at the (Downtown Eastside).

Amici Curiae recently welcomed firm accountants into the fold to help self-represented litigants, notably women and transgender women, prepare their F8 Financial Statement affidavits.

Can law librarians have a role in increasing access to justice?

Women and trans women, who have experienced violence, often seek to begin divorce proceedings from their partner. When they begin drafting their Form F1 (Notice of Family Claim), they are likely to find difficulty completing the section called "legal basis". The duty counsel may give some direction, but it is up to the self-represented litigant to find a way to complete this section. Anytime a self-represented litigant needs legal research, this is where law librarians can play a huge role.

Most of the Amici Curiae volunteers have at least 2 years’ work experience in law firms. If you have less than that, you can volunteer as a mentee. We would need them to hand in a short CV and a signed non-disclosure agreement. (link: http://lawcourtscenter.camp7.org/page-1770378)

Generally, volunteers are rotated every 6 weeks.  Due to the specialized nature of the project (ie to come in to do legal research only), the assignment may be less frequent than every 6 weeks. The scheduler works hard to accommodate special requests including maternity leaves. Amici Curiae is happy to say that it has had 5 babies so far.

If you and your friends are interested, please come and observe a clinic.

If you are interested or have questions, please write Dom Bautista dom@lawcourtscenter.com