Building a bridge to justice from the other side — from by Jordan Furlong
Our professional-centric approach to resolving unmet legal needs hasn’t worked. Maybe it’s time we empowered the people who are already there.

An enormous and intricate bridge with parts of it bending down and part of it bending up -- creating a criss-cross pattern


Given all that, I think it’s time we tried demand-side approach instead — one that doesn’t require us to licence and deploy more legal services professionals, but instead focuses on and empowers those who are already dealing with people’s unmet and unrecognized legal needs.

So if we’re not looking for legal professionals, who are we looking for? If we take a user-centred, needs-focused approach, we’ll find ourselves looking for someone who’s familiar to and trusted by the vulnerable people with unmet legal needs, who’s walked with them, earned their confidence over time — “someone who looks like them, understands their situation, and are trusted members of their community.”

These individuals are already present in the lives of people with unmet legal needs. They’re community activists, librarians, hospital employees, teachers, social workers, homeless advocates, therapists, food bank employees, members of a religious order, financial counsellors, mental health clinic staffers, juvenile case workers, and many others.