LawConnect Ontario is a collaboration between Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) and the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN). OJEN delivers educational programs to schools and youth groups about law and the justice system. CLEO produces free print and online legal information resources on a range of legal topics, including housing, family, social assistance, and employment law.
CLEO and OJEN share the same goal: to further access to justice through education and information. The work we do is similar and complementary. When we collaborate and co-ordinate, we can increase the quality and accessibility of our programs and information.
Shortly after CLEO and OJEN began sharing office space in February 2015, cross-pollination of our projects began. In January 2016, we took a more formal step to form LawConnect Ontario, a union which brings us closer together as collaborative partners and strengthens us as the two sole-purpose PLEI organizations in Ontario. Supported by our core funders, the Law Foundation of Ontario and Legal Aid Ontario, we are already finding ways to co-ordinate administrative functions, improve efficiency, and prepare for more substantive joint projects.
LawConnect is not a merger, but a collaboration.
We are still in the early days of planning, but it’s safe to say that we will start by tackling one of the core areas in which we both work: supporting lawyers, legal workers, community workers, and educators of all stripes in providing PLEI to their communities and to the public.
As an early initiative, LawConnect will host the annual conference of the Public Legal Education Association of Canada (PLEAC), the national association of PLEI providers, here in Toronto in the fall of 2016. In addition, we are proud to partner with The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) to present Connect Create Communicate 2016: Public Legal Education and the Access to Justice Movement, a conference on PLEI and A2J, on October 20-21.
In the near future, we may develop technology-based educational tools for youth based on CLEO content and delivered through OJEN programs. We may set up a “Speaker’s Bureau” to make it easier for community organizations to find speakers (lawyers or legal workers) who are available to make presentations on legal topics.
As we explore these and other ideas, we look forward to working together to strengthen the PLEI environment for all Ontarians.