With so many of us working remotely, the June issue of BarTalk is a digital-only issue. Watch for our next print issue in October. 

The Province and the Law Foundation

Partners in creating positive change

"I am very grateful to the Law Foundation for their continued partnership with British Columbia as we move to address the ongoing crisis of access to justice in our province – a problem that won’t be solved overnight, but which is far more amenable to solutions thanks to the efforts of the Law Foundation team."

The Province and the Law Foundation

My relationship with the Law Foundation of BC (“Law Foundation”) is a long one, running for as long as I’ve worked in the law in British Columbia. 

My first-year summer job at the BC Civil Liberties Association, writing their Arrest Handbook, was funded by the Law Foundation. On leaving my job at the Federal Department of Justice, I led Pivot Legal Society’s housing law project – another Law Foundation funded project. While I was Executive Director at the BC Civil Liberties Association, the organization depended on “core funding” and project funding from the Law Foundation.

It’s clear that the Law Foundation deserves the credit – or the blame – for my legal career to date. But far more importantly, I am very grateful to them, as well as to all lawyers in the province, for allocating the interest from trust accounts in a way that made a real and meaningful difference in the lives of so many of my clients, and the injured, traumatized, and too often invisible clients of hundreds of advocates, law students, and lawyers across BC.

I had thought that on becoming Attorney General, my relationship with the Law Foundation would come to a bittersweet close. Happily, as Attorney General, I find myself working more closely than ever with this critically important organization, thanks to the provincial network of advocates they have built, trained and supported.

Without the Law Foundation, it would take the province years to set up a network of legal aid poverty-law clinics across the province – a key goal of our government as part of our poverty-reduction strategy and our efforts to improve life for British Columbians. Amazingly, thanks to our partnership with the Law Foundation, in months instead of years, we have been able to allocate $2 million in funding for eight new legal clinics across British Columbia that will be hiring and opening this fall. This ambitious goal will only be achieved because we are able to build on the experience and effective delivery models pioneered and honed by the Law Foundation.

Thanks to a separate partnership with the Law Foundation, the province has been able to leverage a new annual grant of $358,000 into much greater impact by supporting the provision of increased front-line advocacy services at Law Foundation funded advocacy offices across the province. Without the Law Foundation’s existing network, we’d be starting from scratch and spending that money (and more) on administration to just get things started.

We have so many exciting things going on in the province to increase access to justice – and although these are provincial initiatives, it’s rare to find a provincial project underway that doesn’t have some aspect that relies on the Law Foundation’s expertise and outreach. As just one example of a critically important intervention, the Law Foundation stepped up to provide funding for meals for Elders who work on our growing First Nations courts in the province – a funding requirement that had been missed and needed to be fixed urgently.

I am very grateful to the Law Foundation for their continued partnership with British Columbia as we move to address the ongoing crisis of access to justice in our province – a problem that won’t be solved overnight, but which is far more amenable to solutions thanks to the efforts of the Law Foundation team.

A very special thank you to outgoing Executive Director of the Law Foundation Wayne Robertson, QC for his years of service to the public interest in British Columbia, and a hearty welcome to Josh Paterson to fill Wayne’s big shoes at the Foundation. Good luck Wayne and Josh in your exciting new adventures!