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Brea Lowenberger & Heather Heavin, CREATE Justice, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with Dr. Lisa Jewell & Dr. Bryce Stoliker, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science and Justice Studies
In celebration of 2023 Law Day, CREATE Justice, with the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science and Justice Studies, is pleased to announce the release of the final reports of the Legal Data Scan and Needs Assessment (the reports), the first of its kind in Saskatchewan, made possible through the support of the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan and the Law Society of Saskatchewan. The purpose of the reports are as follows:
Some of the findings in the Legal Needs Assessment coincide with the same themes identified by stakeholders a decade ago at the first Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution (2013), which was an impetus of the current “access to justice movement” in Saskatchewan. Two of the priority areas then and now, as evidenced in the Legal Needs Assessment Report, include improving early-integrated public legal information and service delivery at critical gaps (Priority 1); and engaging the legal profession in this culture shift (Priority 2).
Saskatchewan stakeholders have worked tirelessly over the last decade to address these two priority areas. However, as the Legal Data Scan Report attests, much remains to be done to collaboratively improve and track access to justice system improvements in Saskatchewan. Specifically, as we move into the next decade of prioritizing such improvements, increased focus on justice data collection and sharing, and evaluation of initiatives (Priority 3) is the key area of need to advance impactful and sustainable systemic change. As management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” CREATE Justice will continue to collaborate with stakeholders to implement recommendations from the reports, including improving the justice data deficit in order to advance data-driven change in the province.
These reports are part of supporting evidence-based decision making locally and nationally as we continue to move the report recommendations forward. Our Legal Needs Assessment Report builds off other needs assessments (e.g., much of the content from the Bridging the Gaps, 2018, survey of the Alberta Law Foundation has been adopted and adapted to create the surveys for this project; and survey items reflect some of the most common access to justice indicators from the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters’ Measuring access to justice: A survey of approaches and indicators in A2J metrics initiatives, 2019, and OECD/Open Society Foundations’ Legal needs surveys and access to justice, 2019, etc.). Now that our reports are complete, partners in other provinces will be using our report tools and findings to inform next stages of their research and associated action. The collaboration among jurisdictions is resulting in efficiencies in research and creating capacity for a strong foundation for action.
We anticipate that the identified priority areas and broader findings from the reports will be useful to a variety of stakeholders in informing justice system improvements. CREATE Justice invites ongoing conversation about the priority areas, broader findings, and thoughts on next steps for collaborative action supported by findings from the reports:
Please email us at email@example.com with any questions, comments, or ideas related to the reports, and how you or your organization would like to be part of the next decade of change in Saskatchewan.