Research Paper Number


Subsequently published in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal.

Document Type


Publication Date



Access to justice; law and geography; empirical legal studies; law and society; rural and remote lawyers; territorial justice


Recent concerns about the geography of access to justice in Canada have focused on the dwindling number of lawyers in rural and remote areas, raising anxieties about the profession’s inability to meet current and future demands for localized legal services. These concerns have motivated a range of policy responses that aim to improve the education, training, recruitment and retention of practitioners in underserved areas. We surveyed lawyers in Ontario to better understand their physical proximity to clients and how, if at all, that proximity promotes access to justice. We find that lawyers' scope of practice varies based on a number of factors, and in several areas of law lawyers serve clients beyond their immediate locality. Our results suggest that debates about the geography of access should be premised on the goal of territorial justice as an equitable distribution of legal services rather than a narrower emphasis on the equal distribution of lawyers.