Pro Bono Students Canada

Flip Your Wig for Justice has Lawyers Wearing Wacky Wigs

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Jessica Smith Cross, Metro News, February 13, 2014

Have you heard the one about the lawyer who wore a clown wig to court?

It’s not a joke. On March 6, some legal professionals and their supporters will be wearing wigs as part of the inaugural Flip Your Wig for Justice fundraiser. The participants have collected pledges through flipyourwigforjustice.ca (http://www.flipyourwigforjustice.ca/), which will benefit seven non-profit organizations in Ontario that help people understand their rights and the legal system through education, or provide pro-bono legal assistance.

“Access to justice” is a problem when people have a legal issue and find the justice system is too complicated, expensive and inaccessible, said Sarah McCoubrey, executive director of the Ontario Justice Education Network, one member of the coalition of non-profit organizations.

According to the Flip Your Wig campaign, nearly 12 million Canadians “will experience at least one legal dispute or injustice in a given three-year period,” and “65 per cent think that nothing can be done, are uncertain about their rights, do not know what to do, think it will take too much time, cost too much money or are simply afraid of what might happen.”

Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School Lorne Sossin said the participants in the Flip Your Wig campaign are all dedicated in addressing the gap between the justice people deserve and the justice people can afford.

“Some of those who have the least access (to justice) are those who need it the most ‹ vulnerable people, children, women in settings of domestic violence, new Canadians who are not in a position to navigate the system,” he said.

For many people, lacking the money to hire a lawyer isn’t the problem, and organizations that provide timely, accessible information about legal rights and the justice system can help people solve their problem before that becomes necessary, Sossin said.

Other organizations provide pro-bono counsel when it does become necessary.

“Ultimately the goal of these organizations is to ensure that no one’s in that position of being denied fundamental rights or fairness because they simply don’t have the resources to access lawyers or legal experts,” Sossin said. “If one person’s in that position, it’s one person to many.”

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