A NSRLP Summer Reading ListNSRLP
We have been asking around in our A2J community for suggestions for summer reading on inspirational topics. We received many suggestions and offer you the following five recommendations for your reading pleasure:
Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed (Vintage Canada 2007) by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Quinn Patton. This book begins with a warning: “This book is not for heroes or saints or perfectionists. This book is for flawed people [and we are all flawed in one way or another] who are not happy with the way things are and would like to make a difference. This book is for ordinary people who want to make connections that create extraordinary outcomes”. It is an incredible account of how to innovate and make change when faced with task of addressing complex social problems like access to justice (recommended by Nicole Aylwin, Executive Director, Canadian Forum on Civil Justice).
Tug of War: A Judge’s Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Reality of Family Court (ECW Press 2009) by Justice Harvey Brownstone and Paula J. Hepner presents a judge’s perspective on family court and is a great read. Far from defending and extolling the present family justice system, this little book gives the reader a reality check about family court in Chapter 2 (“Why family court should be the last resort”) and describes alternatives to litigation in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 – “Lawyers – why you need one, how to choose one and how to measure performance” – is a very useful chapter for anyone considering legal action. While SRLs are often frustrated to be told by a judge to “go get a lawyer”, Justice Brownstone is thoughtful enough to suggest that for those of us who don’t qualify for legal aid, we should at least consider consulting with a lawyer to ensure documents are properly prepared, such as including all claims you are entitled to, and what evidence is legally relevant. Some legal assistance is better than none (recommended by Heather Hui-Litwin, former SRL, lawyer and NSRLP volunteer).
Access to Justice (Oxford University Press, 2004) by Deborah Rhodes. More than ten years after its first publication, Professor Rhodes’ incisive analysis of the A2J crisis (focused on the U.S. but equally relevant to Canada) remains as stark and as shocking as ever. Just as striking is the continuing relevance – and now the urgency – of the solutions she advocates, which we are still debating in 2015. These include the need for new and affordable models of legal assistance that may challenge the monopoly of the legal profession, as well as the promotion of diversification within legal practice, including the use of multidisciplinary practice group legal service plans and unbundled legal services. Sound familiar? Rhodes’ book is one of the very best sources of data and arguments for A2J advocates (recommended by Julie Macfarlane).
The War on Drugs: A Failed Experiment (Dundurn, 2014) by Paula Mallea. A criminal prosecutor discusses the illegal drug trade and the failure of the so-called “War on Drugs” to stop it. This book addresses a substantive access to justice issue: the impact of the criminalization of recreational drugs on individual lives. Mallea questions the approach taken by generations of policymakers and law enforcement agencies (the “War on drugs”) and looks for new, humane and innovative solutions (recommended by Professor Bill Bogart, NSRLP Advisory Board Member)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Collins, first published 1960) by Harper Lee. This book opens with a famous epigraph from Charles Lamb: “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” This may be all you need to know to read – or re-read – this classic story of the struggle for justice in a racist Southern U.S., and one lawyer’s role in that process. This work of fiction confronts us with the reality of the ways in which power and powerlessness distorts access to justice, and the work of a lawyer in navigating preconceptions, bias, and prejudice (recommended by Dom Bautista, Executive Director of the Law Courts Center, Vancouver).