The Ontario Court of Justice is the busiest in Canada, dealing with about a half a million adult and youth criminal charges each year. It is an ongoing challenge to make the Court open, accessible, and responsive to the needs of the people, which is why it is implementing a comprehensive strategy to build Better Justice Together.
Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur announced that the justice strategy arose out of concern for ensuring meaningful access to justice, particularly for more vulnerable segments of the population. An Aboriginal Justice Division was newly created to consider the unique needs of the province’s First Nations people and other measures are being implemented to promote access and innovation in the system.
Legal administrative assistants will play a valuable role in this transformation—read on to learn more about what changes to expect in this career path.
Improving court processes and access to necessary services is a key motivating factor for modernizing and streamlining the ministry’s supporting technology. This means increasing automated processes that provide guidance electronically and fluidly share resources between governmental agencies and legal support offices.
More efficient case management would include new processes for online dispute resolution. Already, many small claims matters are being filed online, independent of office hours, and some of those are also being resolved through automatic default judgements. Diverting appropriate cases out of court, when possible, allocates more resources where they are most needed. New easy-to-use systems are being developed for child support and search warrants that reduce the need to attend court and make it faster to access necessary systems.
As Ontario’s population becomes older, urbanized and more diverse, there are greater demands on justice services. People expect faster service and are adept at serving themselves electronically. In response, new online services are making it easier to find out court appointments and information about cases—the online court lists website received over 230,000 visits in its first six months alone.
The Crown case management system, called SCOPE, is also enabling electronic disclosure for prosecutors in partnership with police across the province. Legal administrative assistants regularly undertake research and file paperwork for multiple cases, coordinating with legal offices and the courts. These professionals with legal assistant training can expect easier access to necessary information as the system adopts emerging technologies and offers more functions online.
Attorney General Meilleur commented on her experiences to highlight the need for improving access particularly to Francophones, First Nations people, mothers, and individuals with mental health issues. The ministry intends to promote accountability and more efficiently allocate resources to achieve these goals.
Students taking a legal administrative assistant course understand the importance of leveraging computer technology to produce and deliver accurate legal correspondence, process documents, schedule appointments, and ensure the accurate and timely production of various legal papers. The Ontario Court of Justice’s modernization strategy will make the legal assistant’s role even more effective and efficient.
Interested in becoming a legal administrative assistant?
Contact Canadian College to learn more about our legal assistant courses in Windsor.