Time for a Podcast on A2J & Social Justice in Canada: Can We Bring the Two Solitudes Together?

Time for a Podcast on A2J & Social Justice in Canada: Can We Bring the Two Solitudes Together?

A big part of our focus at the National Self-Represented Litigants Project since 2013 has been using every possible means to create a real conversation among the stakeholders in the justice system – which means not just legal professionals, but the Canadian public as well.

We see the legal community as the stewards of the legal system, and the public as its inheritors. A sensible plan for a way forward out of the current A2J crisis or the “quagmire” as Attorney-General former BC Wally Oppal recently described it requires the engagement of both stewards and inheritors.

NSRLP has tried many different ways to make this conversation happen. Part of our effort has been trying to insert former SRLs into policy talking shops and conferences, with some success. Another strategy has been to build community and conversation on social media. What we have found is that this is still basically two solitudes: our large Twitter community engages primarily legal professionals and organizations, while our active Facebook page is virtually all SRLs and members of the public. There are exceptions, and the discussion is often brilliant and challenging in both places, but it is still a conversation largely taking place on one or the other side of the “fence”. And when comments appear on the Blog, they are usually a string of SRL comments or (less often) a string of legal professionals’ reflections – it seems that one group jumps off as the other jumps on.

Of course, the two solitudes are a systemic problem and there is no one solution. So we are trying something new.

Launching our new Podcast!

Jumping Off the Ivory Tower with ProfJulieMac is a weekly podcast of about 30 minutes – perfect commuting time, or time to walk the dog or prepare dinner – that will showcase the experiences of both the stewards and the inheritors of the legal system. We are hoping that there is plenty to engage with and to chew on here for both legal professionals and the growing numbers of Canadians who are concerned about Access to Justice and related social justice issues.

In Jumping Off the Ivory Tower, I will be talking with visionaries, social justice warriors, and individuals who have found themselves – often to their surprise – trying to navigate and challenge the legal system – we call them “disrupters”. Each of these stakeholders in the justice system will be asked about their motivations, and how their experiences have changed them – for better or for worse. The conversations are intimate, in-depth and provocative; we think that there is something here for everyone.

Bridging the Two Solitudes 

The podcast will feature lawyers, judges and SRLs, as well as advocates of all stripes working on social change that we believe dovetails with A2J.

The scope and depth of the podcast is in part a reflection of my work –including research and advocacy on transforming legal education and the regulation of legal services, the treatment of victims of sexual violence, Canadian-Muslim communities and their interaction with the law – and related topics that we shall bring in both “experts” and warriors to discuss.

But we also see the podcast acting as a mirror for the enormous changes that are taking place in the relationship between the justice system and the Canadian public. Canadians in 2017 are savvy Internet consumers, constantly sifting multiple sources of information in an age when fact-based information is sometimes difficult to distinguish from propaganda, or “fake news”.

In order for Canadians to form opinions and make up their minds on a range of social justice issues (from legal profession reform to refugee policy to public health to multiculturalism to policy on mental health and disabilities) they need authentic, fact-based sources of information. But we also believe they need to be able to share ideas and perspectives across traditional silos such as “expert” and “layperson”.

We hope that our new podcast will encourage informed, engaged conversation between Canadians and justice system professionals, and begin to break down some of the tenacious barriers between “insiders” and “outsiders”.


Tune in over the coming weeks – you can subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud, or whatever podcast app you use, and of course you can find each episode here on our website. We shall be releasing a new episode each Monday, beginning today. If you are provoked, inspired, annoyed or just curious for more discussion, please write and tell us. (representingyourself@gmail.com)

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Comments (2)

  • sandra olson

    i look forward to this. I see a lot of token behaviors on the part of the legal system. But no actual change. Still complete contempt for the self represented. And a lot of justification of the abuse the system is handing to the self represented.

    September 18, 2017 at 1:16 pm
  • Ken Chasse

    Prof. Macfarlane, if you had a close family member or friend who had a serious legal problem, would you be content to send that loved one to programs such as the law societies’ “alternative legal services,” or to the NSRLP, or to CFCJ? Of course not. You have the means to retain the best lawyer available for the ones near and dear to you.
    So, shouldn’t you try equally hard to give the rest of the population that same opportunity along with engaging in such commendable career advancement as establishing the NSRLP? It isn’t enough to say, “but I can’t make “affordable legal services” available to the population by myself.” True; no one person can (except possibly the Attorneys General). But law societies can. And together we can force law societies to do so by performing the duties set out in s. 4.2 of Ontario’s Law Society Act. And make other lawyers aware that they too are victims of such conduct committed by the very benchers they elected. You, as a law school professor, can publish, and urge your colleagues to publish analyses of, and speak in several venues of the cause of the problem, and of the responsibility of those accountable for its continuing growth in damage and misery caused, and for solving it, including the governments that tolerate such behavior.
    The solution to the problem is abundantly evident to everyone, everywhere in the production of all goods and services that don’t exist in monopoly-controlled markets, i.e., “support services methods of production,” instead of the very obsolete “cottage-industry methods” used by the legal profession. But no pressure means, no innovation.
    And, law societies are the only ones who have the duty in law and power to solve the problem.
    Instead, that ethical obligation of holding law societies to account is ignored by law school academics in preference for a more certain and comfortable form of career advancement and embellishment. How is that ethical?
    For my part, I have published several articles on the SSRN and on the blog, Slaw, that are very critical of law society benchers’ intentional refusal to try to solve the problem of unaffordable legal services. That is criminal conduct–Criminal Code s. 122. Although law professors are not co-conspirators or aiders & abettors, they do appear to be, “fellow travelers.”
    See the A2J articles listed on my SSRN author’s page; at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1398484%5D ;
    and on my Slaw author’s page; at: http://www.slaw.ca/author/chasse/.
    My latest and most comprehensive A2J article is, “Access to Justice–Unaffordable Legal Services’ Concepts and Solutions,” (SSRN, revised to August 28, 2017; free pdf. download at:
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2811627 .
    — Ken Chasse, October 9, 2017.

    October 9, 2017 at 10:14 am

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