Law Libraries: Ensuring Competency in the Profession and Access to Justice
Law libraries represent one of the pillars of our constitutional democracy. Not only are they required for the proper functioning of the rule of law where every citizen is presumed to know the law, they are critical to lawyer and paralegal competency.
The common law system requires that lawyers know how laws have been previously interpreted by the courts. Indeed, as lawyers, we are ethically obligated to bring developments in the common law to the Court's attention regardless of whether it helps or hinders our client's case. Access to legal research materials is therefore a precondition to our ability to perform our duties, those owed to the Court, our clients, and the public. Furthermore, law libraries are one of very few sources of highly skilled and free legal research assistance for self-represented litigants.
Despite the critical importance of law libraries , the Law Society of Ontario cut our law library system funding by 10%. The law library at the Ottawa Court House, the CCLA's Gordon F. Henderson Law Library, was cut by 14%. The law libraries were not consulted prior to the cuts being made and were given two (2) week's notice.
In my capacity as Chair of the External Relations Committee for the CCLA, we prepared the following statement in response to the recent LSO 2021 budget cuts:
The CCLA calls on the LSO to ensure that its cuts to LIRN in response to COVID-19 are temporary and that all funding will be reinstated thereafter.
If you believe in the fundamental importance of lawyer/paralegal competency and access to justice, we ask that you circulate the CCLA's statement widely among your network. We cannot harm one of the central pillars of lawyer and paralegal competency. Katie Black