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Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project


Listening to Ontarians
May, 2010

The Geography of Civil Legal Services in Ontario
November, 2011

The Law Society of Upper Canada, Legal Aid Ontario, and Pro Bono Law Ontario agreed in 2008 to undertake a joint research initiative – the Ontario Civil Legal Needs (OCLN) Project. The goal of the Project is to build a detailed understanding of the civil legal needs of Ontarians of modest means and help uncover strategies to better meet those needs. The Project comprises three research phases:

  • a phone survey to assess quantitatively the civil legal needs of low- and middle-income Ontarians;
  • a series of focus groups with front-line legal and social service providers to identify gaps and areas for collaboration; and
  • a mapping exercise to show the availability and range of existing services.

The first two research phases were completed in 2010, resulting in the publication of the Project’s first report, Listening to Ontarians, which summarizes the demand for civil legal services among low- and middle-income Ontarians. The Project’s second report, The Geography of Civil Legal Services in Ontario, released in 2011, is the result of the Project’s final research phase. The second report creates a detailed picture of the market for civil legal services across Ontario by comparing and analyzing the demographic characteristics of the Ontario population and the distribution of legal services.

The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, former Chief Justice of Ontario, is leading the OCLN Project as Chair of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee members are Marion Boyd, former Attorney General of Ontario and Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, John McCamus, Chair of Legal Aid Ontario and Lorne Sossin, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and former Vice-Chair of Pro Bono Law Ontario. The Project also benefits from the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario.

The reports and additional information are fully available for the legal community, government, academics and others to reference and use. The reports are available in French and English on the website and in hardcopy by request.

Together, the Project’s two reports provide invaluable, hard data that will guide the Project partners and others in shaping and enhancing access to justice policies and initiatives.

About the Project Partners:

  • The Law Society of Upper Canada regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest and has a duty to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario.
  • Legal Aid Ontario is an independent government-funded organization with a mandate to promote access to justice for low-income Ontarians.
  • Pro Bono Law Ontario is a charitable organization that promotes access to justice in Ontario by creating and promoting opportunities for legal service providers to provide pro bono (free) legal services to persons of limited means.

The OCLN Project also benefited from the generous support of the Law Foundation of Ontario. The Law Foundation is a grant-making organization that promotes and enhances justice for all Ontarians.

Launch of The Geography of Civil Legal Services in Ontario Report

The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry released The Geography of Civil Legal Services in Ontario, the second report of the Project, at an event held at Osgoode Hall on November 21, 2011.  The audience heard from members of the Project Steering Committee as well as Mark Leach, Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Law Society Treasuer Laurie Pawlitza.  See photos from the event below.

For more information please contact Denise McCourtie at 416 947 3362 or

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