Accessible Professionalism

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Long title: 
Accessible Professionalism
Semple, Noel
Author(s)' contact information: 
University of Toronto, Canada
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London

How, and to what extent, do lawyers in private practice create access to justice for individuals confronting personal plight? What impediments do those working in fields such as family law and personal injury law encounter in their efforts to provide services to people of modest means? Is there anything that the legal profession and its regulators can do to increase the accessibility of this segment of the bar? To respond to these queries, the author is embarking upon a program of mixed-method empirical research with Ontario lawyers. The research goals include advancing knowledge of legal professionalism in action and creating new insights about how private practice legal professionals can enhance access to justice.
I plan to begin this empirical research project in 2014. At the International Legal Ethics Conference, I will first contextualize this initiative by identifying the main themes and questions in the literature. Two bodies of literature are particularly germane. First is the access to justice scholarship, especially work which scrutinizes financial and non-financial impediments to expert legal service provision. Second is empirical sociolegal study of North American lawyers from the individual client "hemisphere." I also hope to introduce and obtain feedback on my research queries. These explore various financial and non-financial characteristics of personal plight law practice which are germane to accessibility.

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