The justice system is complex. Here’s to the lawyers who make it a little easier.
October 27 is Duty Counsel Day across Canada.
Duty counsel are legal aid lawyers who give free advice in criminal, family and immigration cases in Canada. Duty counsel help Canadians more than 1.2 million times a year. In Alberta, duty counsel lawyers are currently helping people in some 75 communities.
Anyone can suddenly ﬁnd themselves in the justice system. It can seem complex and overwhelming. Confusion can lead to negative outcomes for the people involved and cause disruption and delay within the legal process. This is why duty counsel exists. They help keep the legal system functioning and protect our fundamental rights.
This year, Canada’s 13 legal aid associations are teaming up with schools across the country to educate the next generation of citizens about the importance of duty counsel to the justice system.
Teachers are encouraged to set aside a few minutes of classroom time to play short videos, do a word search together and discuss how the justice system works in simple terms. Learning materials are available in English and French.
In Alberta, Legal Aid Alberta lawyers are hosting “Ask Me Anything” Q&A sessions in high school classrooms around the province. Students will learn about a day-in-the-life of a duty counsel lawyer, come to better understand their rights as citizens and discover career opportunities in the law.
1. Watch short videos about duty counsel. Know what they do and why it matters.
Duty Counsel Lawyers: The unsung superheroes of the Canadian justice system
Want more videos? Duty Counsel Day on YouTube
2. Say thanks to a duty counsel lawyer! We’re encouraging clients, colleagues and friends of duty counsel lawyers to send a written message of support.
Watch: “Thank you” from the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of Canada
4. Write a post on social media. Not sure what to say? It’s OK! Copy-paste your favourite.
“If you like justice, I have a day for you. It’s important we know our Charter rights and how to exercise them. On Oct 27, I’m standing with Duty Counsel—legal aid lawyers who defend our rights. You can too. knowdutycounsel.ca #knowdutycounsel #dutycounselday #accesstojustice”
“Every Canadian deserves help navigating the justice system. Celebrate our charter right to legal support. Duty Counsel Day is Oct. 27. knowdutycounsel.ca #knowdutycounsel #dutycounselday”
5. Change your virtual background for work meetings.
6. Update your professional email signature to look like this:
“Duty Counsel Day is Oct. 27. Know your rights.”
7. Do a word search puzzle. Learn a few simple legal terms with the young people in your life. Download the word search.
8. Calling all lawyers! Join a free webinar to learn what it takes to become a duty counsel lawyer in Alberta. Law students are encouraged to attend.
9. Stay in the know. Sign up for the Duty Counsel Day newsletter to receive occasional updates.
Did you know? Access to Justice Week is Oct. 24-30.