Jumping Off the Ivory Tower with Prof Julie Mac

Hosted by National Self-Represented Litigants Project Director Julie Macfarlane and Project Coordinator Dayna Cornwall, our social justice podcast showcases visionaries, social justice warriors, and legal system “disrupters”; we ask about their motivations, and how their experiences have changed them – for better or for worse.

Julie Macfarlane is a law professor whose research and writing has inspired debate over many important social justice issues including Access to Justice, the future of legal services, transforming legal education, how Muslim communities relate to the Canadian legal system, and justice for the victims of sexual violence. She was recently selected as one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers.

Jumping Off the Ivory Tower is a platform to showcase some of the important work going on both in Canada and internationally. Weekly episodes will tackle topics from across the social justice universe, including stories of self-represented litigants, innovation and change in the legal profession, work on sexual violence, racism and Islamophobia, disability rights, and legal education.

As with all NSRLP projects, we hope to spark further discussion and engagement, and bring attention to these topics. The podcast will be posted each week on this page – along with a short description and links to the stories we highlight in our “In Other News” segment. The show is also free on SoundCloud, iTunes, and whatever podcast app you use.

Welcome To Canada?

Anneke Smit, Windsor Law faculty member This week’s podcast features our Windsor Law colleague, Dr. Anneke Smit. Anneke’s work is currently focused on her research and activism on immigration, and in particular, refugee rights. This conversation was recorded last fall, when Anneke was a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for Migration Law in Amsterdam, giving her a European vantage point on the refugee crisis that is roiling in European governments. The conversation centres around themes of family reunification, refugee integration, [...]


Back to the Future of Legal Services

Woody Mosten, lawyer and mediator Forrest (Woody) Mosten is a lawyer and mediator in California, where he practises family law, and provides employment and commercial dispute services. He is renowned as an innovator, and often described as the “grandfather” of unbundled legal services. In this conversation with Julie, Woody talks about how he first came up with the idea of unbundled services, how far he has seen the profession progress in accepting this model, and the work that still needs [...]


Are We There Yet? Tom Cromwell on Access to Justice

Tom Cromwell, NAC Chair & former SCC Justice In our last episode of the season, Julie talks to former Supreme Court Justice Tom Cromwell, who is now in private practice with Borden Ladner Gervais, but remains Chair of the National Action Committee on Access to Justice. Mr. Cromwell rounds out 2017 with some reflections on the state of access to justice in Canada – where have we been, where are we going, and how long will it take to get [...]


Judges and SRLs: Broken Faith

Allison Bowen, former SRL This week’s podcast features the case of Allison Bowen, a self-represented litigant in family court, who was imprisoned for contempt on the request of her ex as a custody and child support conflict escalated between them. She had earlier asked the Canadian Judicial Council to replace Justice Brown with another family court judge, because she did not trust him to treat her without bias, and to judge the case based on the evidence, not whether he [...]


Judges and SRLs: Opening A Dialogue

Justice David Price This week’s episode, a conversation with Ontario Superior Court Justice David Price, is a little different from our usual fare. The aim of this episode is to present some important and practical information about how to successfully navigate the legal process as a self-represented litigant in family court. Justice Price addresses how and why to craft a just and durable settlement in a family dispute, and provides a host of practical tips for family SRLs. We’d also [...]


Taking On the Church

David Greenwood, lawyer This week Julie talks to UK lawyer David Greenwood about his work with victims of abuse by members of the clergy, including the church’s response when victims come forward. In other news: new caselaw around SRLs and issues of judging, Julie on CBC Radio, and tracking SRL caselaw. In Other News: Carbone v McMahon case around judicial bias Julie on CBC Radio’s Ontario Today Jeanne Chard (Harvard Law) on research on case outcomes for SRLs


Tackling Campus Rape Culture

Brady Donohue, lawyer This week, Julie talks to lawyer Brady Donohue about her experiences with and efforts around campus sexual assaults, and the pervasive culture of sexual assault and harassment in our society generally, including the often frustrating institutional responses to allegations of assault. In other news: law societies consider paralegal services, a prestigious award for NSRLP board member John Manwaring, and press over the Dellen Millard case continues. In Other News: Bev Boyden’s blog post about Alberta paralegals NSRLP Advisory Board member [...]


Insiders and Outsiders

Colin Feasby, lawyer Julie talks to lawyer Colin Feasby about his experience as pro bono lawyer for a self-represented litigant in the now rather famous Pintea v. Johns case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court this past April (NSRLP acted as intervenor in that case). On its face, the case was about the hugely punitive fine levied against Mr. Pintea for missing two case management meetings while he was self-representing; but even more importantly, this case [...]


Islamophobia In Our Backyard

Khalil Jessa, law student and activist This week Julie talks with Windsor Law student Khalil Jessa about his thoughts on mounting Islamophobia in Canada, and his work to combat ignorance and hate. Plus, strains in the relationship between the Canadian public and our judiciary. Related: Quebec passes bill banning niqab, burka while receiving public services (National Post) Quebec’s face veil ban may face a Supreme Court challenge (Toronto Star) In Other News: Quebec judge’s remarks about ‘overweight’ teen sex assault victim ‘worrisome,’ Crown says (CBC)  


Weinstein And Ghomeshi: Outing Sexual Predators

Kevin Donovan, journalist This week Julie talks to Toronto Star journalist Kevin Donovan, who broke the Jian Ghomeshi sex abuse scandal in 2014. Kevin and Julie discuss the role of the press in exposing powerful sexual predators, in light of the recent revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. In other news, Jumping Off the Ivory Tower will take a break next week, but will be back on November 6th with a look at Islamophobia in our culture, including the recent [...]


Just a Conservative Alberta Lawyer

Lawyer Rob Harvie This week Julie talks to Alberta family lawyer, and Chair of the NSRLP Board, Rob Harvie, about access to justice, the self-represented litigant crisis, and client-focused legal services – specifically how Rob’s views on all these have changed with experience, and why he feels that change is now urgent. Plus, great library initiatives for SRLs, and a Halifax law firm hires a social justice lawyer – an innovative move. “In Other News” Links: Bend, Oregon’s “Lawyer in the Library” [...]


How Far Can a Law School Dean Go?

Dean Lorne Sossin This week Julie talks to Lorne Sossin, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, about, among other things, his thoughts on former Justice Robin Camp (the “knees together” judge), his philosophy of what it means to be a law school dean, and how student lawyers can be oriented to the lived realities of their future clients. Plus: the success of SRL Awareness Day, a case to watch on disability accommodation in the North West Territories, [...]


Catch 22: No Capacity, No Lawyer

Judy Gayton, self-represented litigant Julie talks to self-represented litigant Judy Gayton about her years of struggling through the justice system with a cognitive disability. Judy’s story is representative of the many people contacting the NSRLP who face the double whammy of navigating the legal system by themselves, on top of a disability. In other news: another great piece from Gillian Hadfield, and career changes from two of Ontario’s top justice leaders. An Appeal: If you are a lawyer, especially if you have [...]


Changing Faces in the Justice System

Ranjan Agarwal, lawyer and incoming OBA Secretary This week Julie talks with Ranjan Agarwal, partner at prestigious Toronto law firm Bennett Jones, about his (many!) appearances before the Supreme Court, about his thoughts on Access to Justice for Canada’s diverse population, and about his goals as incoming Secretary of the Ontario Bar Association. Plus, some recent thoughtful pieces on the future of legal education, and a plug for SRL Awareness Day, coming up on October 4th. “In Other News” links: Prof Gillian Hadfield [...]


It Couldn’t Happen to Me

Jennifer Muller, former SRL, current A2J advocate In our first ever episode, Julie talks with Jennifer Muller about her experience representing herself in the battle for custody of her child, and about her current work as an access to justice advocate. Plus, news about a surprising judicial retirement, friends in court in British Columbia, and a new resource for self-represented litigants. In Other News Links: American Judge Richard Posner retires, citing “difficulties” with the treatment of SRLs by the court system. BC Provincial [...]

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