Appeal from Campaign for Family Justice Chair Philip Epstein Q. C.Print
By Philip Epstein, January 24 2014, Ontario Bar Association
Recently I was approached by Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) to help save one of their longstanding programs, the Family Law Project (FLP). The FLP is a vital court service at risk of closure. I have agreed to Chair a fundraising campaign – the Campaign for Family Justice – and help raise the $650,000 needed to sustain and grow the program for a period of three years.
Epstein Cole, Peter Gilgan and I have made significant contributions to kick start the Campaign and move us toward our goal. I hope you will all help us achieve success in this important endeavour, and I am personally appealing to each of you to join with me in saving this program.
There has been much discussion in the profession recently about the crisis in family justice. Eighty percent of litigants cannot afford a lawyer. The Chief Justice has weighed in. The CBA has called for change. Those of us in the family law bar witness this crisis every day.
We know that a relationship breakdown is far more difficult without access to representation. We see the confusion experienced by self-reps and the challenges faced by an overburdened system.
The FLP places over 100 law students in seven Ontario Courts, assisting thousands of low-income litigants who do not qualify for legal aid. The students help litigants fill out court forms and navigate the system. The program has received awards for enhancing the administration of justice.
As Justice Harvey Brownstone says: “Our Court at 47 Sheppard Avenue would literally not be able to function without the PBSC student volunteers. Everything should be done to save this vital program.”
As family lawyers, one way we can take meaningful leadership on the access to justice crisis is by helping to save a program that is easing the hardship for thousands of Ontarians in need, while training the next generation of family lawyers. Please follow this link to donate to the Campaign: https://donate.utoronto.ca/give/show/148.
All gifts are tax-deductible, and will be acknowledged by PBSC. Thank you for helping us join together as a bar to give back to the community.
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