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The LCO was launched on September 7, 2007 and the Executive Director was appointed on September 15, 2007, followed shortly by the Executive Assistant. As it neared the end of 2007, the Board of Governors had approved the LCO’s initial three projects and the Executive Director had completed the process of hiring a staff lawyer, begun the on-going dialogue with the LCO partners and made contact with some community groups and legal organizations, as well as the Chief Justice of Ontario. By early 2008, the part-time Research Lawyer had been appointed; the first OHLS LCO Scholars and MAG LCO Counsel in Residence had been selected; a brochure had been developed and a new website launched; the Executive Director had been in personal contact with all the partners, at least once and had visited the Chief Justices of the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice and the Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice, as well as a number of community clinics and legal organizations; this Strategic Plan and performance measures for the Executive Director had been developed; and the Board of Governors had approved a Copyright and Attribution Policy, a Translation and Language Policy and principles of good governance in relation to its own performance. The LCO released its first consultation paper, on fees for cashing government cheques, in March 2008.
The LCO’s objectives for the rest of 2008 are as follows:
- Completion of the research and consultation for the first two narrowly focused projects (fees for government cheque cashing and the valuation of pensions on marital breakdown), under the supervision of the Staff Lawyer and the MAG LCO Counsel in Residence, respectively. These two projects will use the resources of the part-time research lawyer and student researchers and it is expected that recommendations will be released by the end of 2008 or early 2009;
- Preparation of a pre-study by the Staff Lawyer and beginning of research for the project on the law and older adults. The LCO will hire contract researchers and students to work on this project after the pre-study, including consultation with affected groups, has defined the parameters of the study. In carrying out this project, the LCO will be cognizant of the overlap with its fourth project, developing a coherent approach to the law affecting persons with disabilities, although the pre-study for that project will not begin until Fall 2008; and
- Approval by the Board of Governors, following discussion by the Research Advisory Board of proposal options, of at least two new projects by the fall of 2008 and of an “approved” list of projects for a longer period.
- The LCO will also hold a roundtable about family law in the first half of 2008, in order to identify the most urgent and/or useful areas for the LCO to investigate in family law and closely related areas.
Communication and Consultation
- Preparation of a communication plan by May 2008 for the LCO to ensure maximum visibility and public awareness, with the assistance of the Communications Manager of Osgoode Hall Law School and the Director of Communications at the Ministry of the Attorney General;
- Visit by the Executive Director and Chair of the Board of Governors to the Attorney General;
- Scheduling of visits (primarily by the Executive Director, but also by the Staff Lawyer and the Research Lawyer) to interested groups, legal and non-legal, across Ontario;
- Preparation of a newsletter for distribution to other law commissions, partners and interested groups in May, September and December 2008 (to be posted on the website); and
- Consultation with relevant groups on the first three projects, depending on the nature of the project and the stage of implementation.
- Preparation of the Annual Report by October 2008;
- Preparation and implementation of individual communication plans for the LCO’s partners by the Executive Director, to be developed by April/May 2008;
- Subsequent visits to the CEO of the Law Foundation, the CEO of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Attorney General of Ontario;
- Second visits to the law schools beginning in the Fall of 2008; and
- Assessment of initial and projected costs of operating the LCO.
Stimulating Critical Debate about Law Reform
- Organization of a conference or symposium on law reform to be held in early 2009, most likely in collaboration with one or more of the LCO’s law faculty partners, in furtherance of the LCO’s objective to become a leader in law reform; and
- Presentation by the Executive Director at the Osgoode Professional Development 11th Annual Analysis of the 2007 Constitutional Cases of the Supreme Court of Canada in April 2008 and co-editorship of and submission of an article on law reform by the Executive Director to a special volume of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal dedicated to access to justice in summer 2008.
In 2008, the LCO had the following objectives: filling the staff complement, including seconded staff; consultation with a wide variety of professional and community groups; development of a brochure; a new website; a newsletter; creation of the Strategic Plan and other LCO policies; completion of two projects and release of discussion papers in two others; approval of new projects; organization of a Roundtable in family law; preparation of an Annual Report; visits to partners; organization of a conference to be held in early 2009; presentations at academic and professional events.
The objectives were achieved, with some exceptions: one new project was approved (the vulnerable workers project) and the Annual Report was deferred until 2009.
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