The legal profession has many noble archetypes: dedicated advocates pro bono publico, champions of significant (not always popular) causes, and unswerving guardians of the court whose instincts shine bright as a sword against much larger opponents.
John-Paul Boyd broke the mould he was casted in quite early on. He’s not so much a noble archetype as a force of unnatural origins who continues to drop jaws with his superhuman ability to drop knowledge.
To say he is one of a kind, is not enough. The best I can do is describe him like this:
Hawaiian creation myth relates that the present cosmos is only the last of a series, having arisen in stages from the wreck of the previous universe. In this account, the octopus is the lone survivor of the previous, alien universe.
JP, I submit, is like this octopus. We don’t know how he does it, but he is not bound by the limits of this world. He just keeps delivering. And it’s impressive.
I know from my own personal experience that there are lots of things that lawyers can do to improve access to justice that don’t need to wait for new rules of court, overhauled legislation, new triage processes and new social programs, that don’t need to wait for the approval of the law society, government or the bench, that can be implemented now, at little or no cost to the individual lawyer.
Less than one week in—and five blog posts totalling over 5,000 words later—it’s clear that JP is brimming with tips on how to advance access to justice in meaningful, manageable ways. One of the things he’s addressing is the risk that we are on the brink of burn-out. He explains thusly:
The new blog results from three things that have begun to trouble me of late. First, as the final report (PDF) of the Family Justice Working Group of the Action Committee on Access to Civil and Family Justice points out, there are limited governmental resources available to put toward the reform of the justice system. Second, the law reform initiatives […] will take some time to bear fruit […]. Third, I fear that we are approaching a point of access to justice saturation, fatigue and burn-out.
Take a moment, and see if there is a post that you connect with. Share the link, even. There are few souls in this current cosmos (or the previous) so qualified as JP to opine on such things.
As a junior call in the early 2000s he began a website called BC Family Law Resource. It reflected his own candid notes about substantive and procedural law and practice. Over time it became the resource for self-representing family law disputants—and more than one lawyer since has confessed to using JP’s free website and its compendium of completed sample forms along with breezy, plain-talking explanations to… erm, confirm their own mastery of the subject.
When we at Courthouse Libraries BC engaged in discussions with JP in 2012 around migrating his body of work to the newly improved Clicklaw Wikibooks platform, we were amazed. The content was enormous. JP Boyd on Family Law prints into a big, fat trade book of about 1,000 pages. And that’s without any sample forms.
A couple years ago, a BC working group convened to publish a review of major sources of public legal information relating to BC family law. After the Legal Services Society, the CBA, and the Ministry of Justice—representing millions of dollars of funding—JP Boyd was listed as the next most abundant primary developer of legal information in this space.
In 2008 JP began to cater to his peers too, producing the definitive source for family law commentary and news in BC, JP Boyd on Family Law: The Blog. Over the last few years he has maintained an average of one new post every five days. Over this time, he continued to present and write for CLE, edit practice manuals, advise on the drafting of the new Family Law Act, teach, research and publish arcane legal doctrine, practice law full time, and publish official materials for the Department of Justice. He is now the executive director of The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family.
JP’s inaugural missive from this blog contemplates a new beginning:
When thinking about ways of improving access to justice, it can help to begin at the beginning and review the barriers that inhibit access to justice.