Alberta Law Libraries (ALL) promote informed engagement with the law, encouraging broad access to justice. ALL’s mission of providing access to the Law supports the Access to Justice initiatives in the province.
This article was originally published in CBA Alberta's Law Matters publication on April 18, 2023.
By: Ryan Fritsch
ChatGPT is barely five months old but has already reframed how the profession discusses legal-tech and access to justice. And little wonder why. To paraphrase science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, the AI-powered text generator appears sufficiently advanced to be indistinguishable from magic.
The latest version - ChatGPT4 - has already demonstrated its legal chops by scoring in the 90th percentile of the LSAT and Uniform Bar Exam. It can draft facta, contracts, custody settlements and affidavits. It can summarize and contrast case law or write closing arguments. Non-lawyers will get pithy, plain-language descriptions of rights related to wrongful dismissal, human rights discrimination, breaking a rental tenancy or criminal charges.
By: Melissa Luhtanen
Access to Justice Week focuses our awareness on the significance of providing equal access to legal programs and services for every person. As a human rights lawyer, I am privileged to witness the transformative impact of pro bono work, especially when the Alberta Human Rights Commission collaborates with community partners. In this blog post, I will outline some of the programs that the Commission has initiated to work toward improving services for Albertans and fostering access to justice.
The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) is proud to be part of a legal community dedicated to improving how the justice system serves the people of Alberta. While ALRI does not directly extend pro bono services to individuals in the traditional sense, our vision for just and effective laws aims to reduce the challenges faced by individuals navigating their legal issues. Working towards this greater good would not be possible without the many members of the legal community who volunteer their time to our law reform projects.
For over 55 years we have made recommendations in a wide range of legal areas from estate administration, rules of court, property rights and family law. Law reform doesn’t happen in a vacuum, however. Ensuring the law serves the people of Alberta requires an “all hands on deck” approach with the legal community being vital to our work. On top of managing their own files, they dedicate substantial personal time to reviewing briefing materials, participating in meetings and ensuring that the experiences of their clients and colleagues are adequately represented in our research.
Recent legislative changes that wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of practitioners include clearer property division rules for common-law couples. These new rules have reduced the burden on families with limited financial resources dealing with a relationship breakdown.
So, while the nature of ALRI's work may not align with the typical view of what pro bono services are, ALRI and the legal professionals who volunteer in our law reform projects are quietly reducing the burden on individuals navigating the justice system. To that end, ALRI will be developing a law reform network of lawyers. We’ll be seeking lawyers from all walks of life who have an interest in improving Alberta’s justice system and want to ensure their perspectives are considered in shaping new legislation. The first steps of this initiative will be announced in 2024. Visit our website at alri.ualberta.ca and sign up for our newsletter for updates on this initiative as well as all our other law reform projects.