The Ontario Justice Education Network launches its brand-new ambassador program

Eight private-practice lawyers commit to teaching the public about the legal system
OJEN Annual Meeting

The Ontario Justice Education Network Annual Meeting

What: The Ontario Justice Education Network annual meeting reception
Where: Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall
When: March 25, 2019

A group of young Bay Street lawyers has joined the Ontario Justice Education Network’s new ambassador program to educate the public about the province’s legal system.

The Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) formally launched the program at the reception for its annual network meeting on March 25, which was held in the Barrister’s Lounge at the Law Society of Upper Canada. The ambassadors are volunteering with OJEN’s programs to show the support of the private bar for public legal education.

“It’s a topic that can get overlooked sometimes in our daily lives,” says John Adair, an OJEN board member and partner at Adair Goldblatt Bieber LLP. “Unless the public understands what the legal system is and how it works, and feels like the legal system cares about them, it’s hard for them to feel they are a stakeholder.”

OJEN runs legal education programs, including mock trials, courthouse visits and law symposiums at high schools. It also holds workshops on the legal system for vulnerable groups, such as English-language learners and young parents.

Kristine Spence, an associate at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, is one of the new ambassadors. She says the program is still in its early stages, but she hopes to get involved with OJEN’s educational programs and represent the organization at events.

“It’s very easy when you’re in private practice to get really busy on your files and before you know it, time passes,” says Spence. “There are ways we can improve access to justice in Ontario, and one of the ways to do that is by providing people with the knowledge on the law. It was important to me to find a program to give back to the community.”

So far, eight lawyers in private practice have joined the program. Ambassadors who were present at the event included: Michael Bookman of Babin Bessner Spry LLP, Tosh Weyman of Torys LLP, Jordan Katz of Adair Goldblatt Bieber LLP, Jonathan Burton of Gluckstein & Associates, Asher Honickman of Matthews Abogado, Lionel Tupman of Tupman & Bloom and Rohan Sethi of KPMG LLP.

During the reception, OJEN awarded their Chief Justices’ Award to Sergeant Milton Ferguson, a Toronto Police officer, for his contributions to promoting public understanding of the justice system. He’s the first police officer to receive the award.

To find out more about the Ontario Justice Education Network, please visit the organization’s website.

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 Photography by Sebastian Leck