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Priorities beckon

Editorial Obiter

Efficiency and the justice system — two words that tend not to be paired together very frequently.

The fact is the pressing issues around resources that lawyers discern within our courts and justice systems have a very tangible impact on those without law degrees embroiled in their processes.

No one knows that more than a family law client stuck in a custody battle or a small business owner blanching the cost of hiring legal counsel to guide them through new forms of legislation on the workplace.

Then there are those who are mired in the trenches — such as lawyers impacted by Legal Aid funding or affected by the fallout of Jordan.

Ontario’s new attorney general, Caroline Mulroney, will have her work cut out for her in the years ahead.

Yasir Naqvi, Mulroney’s predecessor in the AG role, made a point of highlighting to lawyers the investments made in technological upgrades to the courts system.

“Investments in court technology would be an upfront expense,” says Brooke MacKenzie of MacKenzie Barristers PC, who’s been a vocal proponent for these investments. “In the medium to long term, improvements in court technologies would pay for themselves.”

Lee Akazaki of Gilbertson Davis LLP, a former president of the Ontario Bar Association, says there will be hurdles ahead.

“The challenge will be to compete with other ministries, first of all to see if there are more dollars available for the justice sector, and keep cuts from being made from an already embattled court system,” he says.

In the Plan for the People, the platform posted by the Ford team in late May, details about justice reform that were highlighted increased investments in resources to combat gun and gang activity, as well as an overhaul of the Police Services Act. What wasn’t mentioned was lawyers and legal reform.

The question that remains is how Mulroney plans to chart a way forward — the profession will be watching. 

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