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(2017) 34:1 Windsor Y B Access Just p.i


Despite having been a mainstay topic of conversation for many years in the fields of business, technology, public administration and other specialized service sectors such as medicine, ‘innovation’ has only recently begun to infuse conversations in the justice sector. With the widespread recognition that globalization is disrupting traditional legal roles and organizational structures, that technology is poised to radically reconfigure how legal services are delivered, and that despite best efforts, the access to justice gap continues to grow in Canada, innovation – as both a noun and a verb - has become a talisman, poised to help address the challenges pushing at the door of the legal profession.

While conversations about disruptive innovation in law seem to flow more easily when discussing legal technology or the changing nature of “big law”, the discussions around innovation have been more hesitant in dialogues on access to justice. This hesitation may be due in part to an unfortunate history of the term being equated with doing more work with less money – a situation that has often been foisted upon already stretched publically funded legal service providers (like, for example, community legal clinics, or other not-for-profit legal information sources). However, recently, a more nuanced and crossdisciplinary conversation about innovation has emerged. Legal practitioners, academics and access to justice advocates have begun to explore how the theories, methods and tools of innovation in adjacent sectors can be applied to meet the complex access to justice challenges presenting in Canada. This special edition, focused exclusively on exploring innovation through an access to justice lens, is an exciting opportunity to join a burgeoning scholarship on the topic of innovation and access to justice.


Copyright (c) 2017 Nicole Aylwin, Martha E Simmons

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