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CLEO research

CLEO currently has 6 research projects underway:

  • Supporting access to community justice help
    CLEO is exploring approaches to support "community justice help" - enabling community workers in the nonprofit sector to give help to people who come to them with life-affecting problems that include a legal element. Our research proposes a framework that discusses three dimensions of high-quality community justice help. For more information, visit our Supporting community justice help page.
  • Supporting the legal information needs of incarcerated people in Ontario
    CLEO is working with the University of Ottawa to develop an online repository of legal information resources to help volunteers working who staff a phone hotline for people incarcerated at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre to connect with legal information when they need it. This work builds on research we've conducted about the legal information needs of people who are incarcerated or were formerly incarcerated.
  • Evolving Legal Services Research Project
    This multi-year research project, implemented with case studies in Ontario and British Columbia, looks at when public legal education and information programs are effective and provide individuals meaningful access to justice, particularly people who are low income or have other disadvantages. For more information, visit our Evolving Legal Services Research page.
  • Measuring outcomes and impact of interactive tools
    CLEO is developing an evaluation framework for interactive tools that support people who are going online to complete court forms and other law-related forms. CLEO will be working closely with the Montreal Cyberjustice Laboratory, a joint initiative of Université de Montréal and McGill University, to develop the framework, which will include an assessment of the relative effectiveness of interactive tools against other types of resources.
  • Regulating technologies to advance access to justice
    CLEO is leading a project to explore the regulation of smart legal forms designed for use by the public. Working closely with staff and students at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, CLEO is looking at what we can learn from the literature and experience in other jurisdictions in response to a very timely question: what regulatory treatment would best advance access to justice?
  • Making “smart” forms work for people
    CLEO is working with professors at the University of Ottawa and Western University to investigate whether people in Ontario who are accessing “smart” legal forms – for example, to apply for a divorce – are able to not only read the words, but also to understand what they need to do in response. This research uses a functional literacy, user-based approach to assess how CLEO’s recently-produced smart forms are used and completed, and to identify obstacles users face when using the forms, with a view towards continual improvement.

Completed CLEO research

  • Connecting incarcerated people or people who were formerly incarcerated with legal information and related life skills training (2018-2019)
    CLEO looked at the legal information needs of adult prisoners and ex-prisoners in Ontario who need information to help them with their legal problems, and interviewed 38 informants across Ontario who work with incarcerated people directly. We identified where, when, and how pilot legal information and/ or related life skills programs might be conducted through federal or provincial institutions in Ontario, or incorporated into existing post-release training and support programs. Read our working paper.
  • Legal Life Skills: a curriculum for adult learners and trainers (2016-2018)
    This research work built upon CLEO’s reports prepared in 2016 for the Canadian Bar Association on how legal capability or “legal life skills” training could be incorporated into existing life skills programs in Ontario. CLEO developed select draft task sets on legal capability with input from adult instructors, and piloted them through several job-readiness literacy training programs across Ontario.

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