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March Pages 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 199 REMARKS MADE ON BEHALF OF THE LEGAL AID TASK FORCE By Richard Peck, Q.C. The benchers of the Law Society of B.C. created the Legal Aid Task Force in September 2015 to rejuvenate the discussion, at the Law Society, on the topic of legal aid. It was given a broad mandate that includes creating a principled vision on publicly funded legal aid. The Task Force hosted a colloquium in late November 2016 to share and discuss its draft vision and research with judges, lawyers, senior levels of government and key stakeholders. The colloquium was opened with a powerful speech by Richard Peck, Q.C., Vice Chair of the Task Force, on the importance of legal aid, which the Law Society hopes to share more broadly with the profession through the Advocate. What follows is Mr. Peck’s speech. In September 2015 the benchers established the Legal Aid Task Force and assigned it four tasks: a) develop a principled vision for the Law Society concerning publicly funded legal aid; b) identify ways the Law Society could promote and improve lawyer involvement in delivering legal services through legal aid plans; c) identify ways to enhance Law Society leadership concerning legal aid; and d) develop the best methods for engagement with other organizations to coordinate the efficient use of resources in improving publicly funded legal aid. This is, by design, a broad approach to a vexing and persistent problem. The state of legal aid in this province has bedevilled us for decades. As of today it is morbid, if not moribund. The Law Society has determined that it is time to act. The question is how. Hence, the broad approach. Hence, this colloquium. Our purpose in this gathering is to tackle these issues openly and creatively. The Law Society has a statutory obligation to uphold the rule of law, of which equal access to the law is a critical component.


March Pages 2017
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