Access to justice issues have frequented academic, legal, political and mainstream debates for many years (with Slawyers often initiating or driving the dialogue happening in the Canadian blogosphere!). Yet, until now, there has been no identifiable, central platform in Canada where a wide range of justice stakeholders can exchange research and resources, raise questions and share ideas and concerns about access to justice issues. As fellow blogger Karen Dyck notes there is “… innovation in access to justice happening everywhere…[but there is] little evidence of either coordination or collaboration toward what seems to be a common goal.”
In response to this need to coordinate and centralize access to justice related research, news, data and discourse, last month the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) launched the Access to Justice Research Network (AJRN). Comprised of a website and listserv, the AJRN coordinates the circulation of exciting new access to justice work happening across the country.
How does the AJRN work?
The goal of the AJRN is to stimulate dialogue and knowledge exchange as well as to build ties among access to justice researchers across the country.
It is an interactive space that counts among its members, researchers, policy makers, legal professionals and other justice stakeholders committed to A2J. The AJRN has two parts:
- A listserv that allows members to easily connect and/or collaborate with other subscribers, and engage in dialogue around critical A2J issues – all just by sending an email!
- A website that acts as a “clearinghouse” for research and resources related to A2J. While the website is curated by the CFCJ, the site’s content is largely user-generated so the listserv provides a medium for an open exchange of links and papers that are then shared publically on the AJRN website.
In as much buzz as the AJRN has already generated, its current form is a prototype. The established mandate is to:
- Provide a medium for the timely transfer of access to justice research and findings to researchers, lawyers, policy makers and A2J stakeholders.
- Serve as an organized database for content and publications on access to justice issues.
- Create an accessible forum for conversations and knowledge exchange on access to justice matters.
What topics are addressed through the AJRN?
The AJRN already boasts an impressive array of resources on online dispute resolution, legal service delivery, innovative partnerships and collaborations, legal education, alternative dispute resolution and many more. Some of the more recent posts deal with poverty law, health literacy and legal capability, and the post-election debate over legal aid in the UK.
The AJRN welcomes network members to circulate:
- research papers
- policy reports
- news articles
- links to websites
- calls for papers, and
- any other resources they think will enhance work in the A2J arena.
The disclaimer, of course, is that the resource should be related directly to A2J!
The ultimate goal of the AJRN is to create a community of justice stakeholders who are committed to improving access to justice in Canada. The move to create the AJRN and the launch of its prototype has been supported by a generous grant from the Law Foundation of BC/Legal Services Society Research Fund.
Please join us as we work to build a vibrant and energetic A2J Community! We look forward to connecting with you to share, discuss and collaborate on access to justice issues!
To join the listserv, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “AJRN subscribe” indicated in the subject line.
To follow the AJRN blog, visit the website and click the “Follow” button on the site’s landing page.
For general information about the AJRN, visit the website at: ajrn.org