Making Access to Justice a Priority: Behind the Scenes of The Legal Writers Collective

Chris Osei-Kusi sits down with the founder of The Legal Writers Collective: Jacqueline Eboh

Black Law Student Spotlight: Jacqueline Eboh

“Jacqueline is being spotlighted for her amazing work in spearheading an initiative that allows the law to be more accessible. The Legal Writers Collective has been an instant success. Four months after their launch, the Collective received the 2020 Canadian Law Blog Award for Best Student Project. The Collective has a partnership with Legal Listening, a podcast that makes cases more accessible, as well as CanLII Connects, an organization that brings together lawyers, scholars, and others with professional competency in legal analysis to share their insights and form collective opinions”.

We sat down with Jacqueline and asked her a few questions about the Journey.

What is The Legal Writers Collective?

“The Legal Writers Collective is a diverse group of law students who are passionate about increasing access to justice. Established in August 2020, the Collective’s mission is to bring the law within reach and demystify the law. To date the Collective is made up of nine writers, three editors and a Translation and Diversity Coordinator”.

Why did you choose to pursue this type of initiative?

“We launched this initiative because we have recognized that a lot of access to justice issues are because of the mystification of the law. The law is hard to understand and interpret, and we wanted to help our communities by making it a little easier by making the law more accessible and translating complex cases into plain language summaries.

This initiative began because of the recognition and reality that for many people, it is difficult to both understand and interpret the law. This manifests as individuals being unaware of their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and how to adequately protect themselves from abuses of state power. As a society, the law is out of reach for people who do not have legal training, which creates a barrier to pursuing their own justice”.

Since The Legal Writers Collective has been established, how has its impact been felt and in which communities? 

“This initiative started with marginalized and vulnerable people in mind and has expanded rapidly. Within the legal community, it is known that ignorance of the law is not a defence. However, many vulnerable and marginalized people are in fact ignorant of the law for a variety of reasons, and yet do not have the finances to obtain a lawyer. It is important for all individuals to know the foundation of the legal system they can so easily get wrapped into in a moment’s notice. 

The blog started with featuring criminal law decisions as the main focus and is slowly starting to expand to include other areas of law as the law affects people in all areas of their life.”

How Instrumental has your team been throughout this whole process?

“As a collective, we love how strong we have started, and we are excited for how much we will grow. There are many different projects in the works, and none of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of every single member of this team. The team is foundational, their input, insights, willingness, and motivation are truly inspirational. I love that we have a platform that lets the team be creative with their ideas on how to make the law more accessible, they are always coming up with new ideas, structures, and topics. Truly an incredible team to work with”. 

See some key members of the team here.

What remarks would you leave the readers with about the future of the collective?

“As a Black Woman, I saw a continuous need within my community for a better understanding of the law, that hole got bigger through studying the law. The Collective is here to make that hole just a little smaller for everyone. The future of the collective is to work with community members, to give them a little insight to their own justice. I see The Collective growing in so many different avenues, for now, our number one goal is to engage with the community more and ask them how we can help. We are only getting started and I am excited for the path before us."

Black law students continuously continue to facilitate change and forge their own path. Jacqueline realized a significant problem with the current state of legal jargon and is providing a solution. In the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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