New CLEO research – Community Justice Help: Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice

Do you often hear from clients about problems that include a law-related element? Do you feel confident that you have the knowledge and skills to give them some support with those problems? Are you unsure about how far you can or should go in helping them, because you don’t want to stray into giving “legal advice”?

CLEO is pleased to release research by Julie Mathews of CLEO and David Wiseman of the uOttawa Faculty of Law that seeks to bridge this gap by presenting a framework for “community justice help”. Drawing on case studies based on the work of several community-based organizations across Ontario, the research highlights the difference between “access to justice” and “access to the formal legal system”. The research posits that the help and assistance provided by community organizations – which the report calls “community justice help” – should be acknowledged and supported where three features are present:

  • “community justice helpers” have the knowledge, skills and experience they need
  • they work within a not-for-profit organization and an ethical infrastructure
  • they provide holistic support to meet clients’ multi-dimensional needs

The authors hope to provoke discussion across the justice and community sectors with this research. Download the discussion paper. And send us your thoughts on or experiences with the topics covered in the research.