Letter by Mr. Justice Harvey Brownstone
July 22, 2004
It is my great pleasure to write this introduction to the Student Manual for the PBSC Family Law Project at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. My colleagues and I who preside in Family Court in the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto are delighted to welcome you to this exciting and unique opportunity to enhance your legal education. As a complement to your academic studies in Law School, your exposure to “life in the trenches” at a Family Court will provide you with valuable perspective and insight into the practice of Family Law.
Those of us who work in the delivery of family justice services face enormous challenges: the overwhelming majority of our litigants are unrepresented and rely solely on duty counsel; many litigants are new to Canada and do not speak either of our official languages; and a large number of our litigants are functionally illiterate. Our caseload volumes are crushingly high and continually increasing, and we are regularly unable to comply with statutorily mandated timelines for the prompt resolution of cases. Because children in need of protection are our highest priority, we spend a great deal of time on child protection cases, and there never seems to be enough court time for parents involved in custody, access and child support disputes.
The Family Law Project was established in 1998, partly as a result of a presentation I made to faculty and students at The University of Toronto Law School. I felt very strongly that students interested in pursuing a career in litigation (especially Family Law) could benefit from developing a hands-on working knowledge of the Family Court, its procedures and its clientele. I also knew that students could provide a valuable service to litigants if they could provide them with general legal information and assistance in filling out forms. The Family Law Project is an unqualified success because it is a win-win program: students acquire in-depth experience to enhance their legal knowledge and help them develop their career goals; and our litigants benefit from the help that the students provide.
You will maximize the benefits to be gained from participating in the Family Law Project, in the following ways:
I wish you every success in your endeavours, both at Law School and afterwards. Enjoy your time in the Family Law Project, and thank you so very much for giving of yourself in such an important way. I look forward to meeting you and hearing about your experiences.
Mr. Justice Harvey Brownstone
July 22, 2004