No Lawyer for a Hundred Miles? Mapping the New Geography of Access to Justice in Canada

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Legal services, Country lawyers, Ontario--Rural conditions, Lawyers, Administration of Justice, Ontario


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 across 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.


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