The Law Society Act mandates that in carrying out its functions, duties and powers under the Act, the LSO “shall” have regard to a number of principles, including “a duty to act so as to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario”.
The words “access to justice” are not defined in the Law Society Act. Clearly, access to justice is a very broad term that can include assisting members of the public to find a lawyer but can also include the provision of funding to Ontarians of modest means for the retention of legal service providers.
In facilitating access to justice, the roles played by various justice stakeholders are of importance. For example, as the regulator of the profession, the Law Society should not assume the responsibility of a funder of legal services. Funding for such services is the responsibility of the state, not the regulator. The regulator’s responsibility in facilitating access to justice should be focused on matters such as matching the public’s legal needs to legal service providers. This responsibility can be met in various ways.