FOLA Asks: Thoughts on funding staffed local law libraries?

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Ian Speers

I support the continued funding of staffed local law libraries.  I consider that they continue to provide a valuable local resource of legal knowledge, and are an important focal point for local legal communities.


Janis Criger

Absolutely. Libraries perform vital functions for soles and smalls, e.g. assisting with research questions, providing free access to legal databases.


Quinn Ross

In the non-urban settings I practice in, the staff at libraries are a fundamental part of the court process.  Their loss would cause significant hardship to local practitioners.


Robert Shawyer

I support the funding of staffed local law libraries


Michael B Lesage

Staffed local libraries are crucial to many local lawyers and smaller firms. Lots of other areas of the LSO budget should be eliminated first (i.e. LSO using our money to advertise and promote itself) before there are any cutbacks to staffed local law libraries. 


Rebecca C Durcan

The vast majority of Ontario is served by communities that are not Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Sudbury, London or Thunder Bay. These smaller communities rely upon their local law libraries so that they can provide effective and current legal services. I believe that this funding permits licensees to access legal information and services in a cost effective manner. This will in turn allow them to serve their clients in a way that is expected by the LSO. In short, I believe that this funding is a great investment in the profession and the people of Ontario.


Jerry B. Udell

There is a big world outside of the GTA. In order to ensure access to Justice for all residents of Ontario, we must ensure the local libraries are adequately funded


Andrew Spurgeon

As a former president of a county law association, I understand just how much local law associations and libraries are key supports for sole and small practices throughout the Province.  The Law Society has maintained funding of them over time but that needs to be increased.  Any changes to the library management and funding model in LibraryCo. must be premised on the real needs of the users – lawyers not the prescriptions of “experts”.


Lee Akazaki

Local libraries should be funded and staffed in order to assist an older generation of lawyers to update their technological skills. Assisting lawyers from every generation to participate in the information age must be a priority for the Bar.


David Milosevic

There are 48 county and district law libraries in Ontario, and 28 of these are local and small libraries. These libraries are crucial to the ability of lawyers in smaller firms or smaller jurisdictions to provide legal services to their clients. I am not sure of the cost of the staffing proposal and would need to consider the issue in more detail based on the specific staffing recommendations and costs, but I can agree that it is a significant issue affecting many practitioners and I would be prepared to approach it with a view toward preserving and enhancing the availability of these library resources.


Peter Beach

I support the funding of local law libraries.

Jeff Cowan

Local law libraries provide a valuable resource to local practitioners. There should be continued support of the collective and collaborative efforts of FOLA, LSO and TLA in transforming LibraryCo to the new Legal Information and Resource Network (LIRN) to enhance resources available to lawyers throughout the Province.

Etienne Esquega

The local law libraries are a very important resource for the profession, especially for us in the Northwest who have barriers to accessing information otherwise. These libraries must be maintained and must contain materials and resources that are relevant for the users.


Selwyn A Pieters

Libraries provide a valuable service even in the digital era and must be adequately funded.

Peter Wardle

I appreciate the need for these resources outside the large cities like Toronto and Ottawa.

Kristin Hutton

I would support (without any increase) my annual fees being targeted to the law libraries.

Gerard Paul Charette

LSO has a role here. Local libraries need adequate funding.


John Arkelian

Staffed local law libraries continue to be indispensable resources, and they consequently need to be properly funded.

Sylvie Patenaude

If the LSO is “our” LSO (as their slogan says) then it must take steps to ensure that local law libraries are funded to ensure that legal services providers in smaller towns\cities outside of Toronto have access to a menu of services and programs that would not otherwise exist.





Douglas W. Judson

Outside of major centres, the staff and supports of law libraries are an invaluable resource for practitioners and support the functioning of our courts, and our profession’s service to the public. Their loss would compound some of the existing challenges in court process and introduce further hardship to practitioners who serve clientele in these regions. They are a critical tool to small firms and sole practitioners on the front lines of client service.


Rene Larson

I am extremely concerned about the survival of the County & District libraries as useful and accessible resources for soles and small firm lawyers who cannot afford full library resources within their offices. I pledge to fight for your access to affordable library resources! Each of us pays $191 per year for the current library system – will the new LIRN initiative benefit or harm soles and small law firms?  I intend to monitor closely the incoming LIRN organization, and to use funding by LSO as a means to keep communications open with LIRN and to enhance future local library services for soles and smalls.


Orlando Da Silva, LSM

Whenever I visited a regional court house, I always used its library.  The library provides important services to local and visiting counsel in the form of research assistance, legal resources, CPD, and a sense of community (which helps maintain a civil bar). I think it is important to maintain and continue to support them.  Having said that, I would like to hear from regional benchers, FOLA, and others about whether they are being fully utilized in the best ways possible having regard to their operating costs.  My goal would be to search for ways to increase their value to lawyers, and indirectly, to the public at large.  Continuing professional development and networking opportunities for lawyers, and perhaps after hours legal education or ProBono Ontario services for the public, would factor into that analysis.


Ryan Alford

I have no objection in principle to this funding, but I believe that the ability of local bar associations to assist in this endeavour might vary greatly, such that a tailored approach to providing that funding might be warranted.  Local libraries continue to be an essential resource (particularly in remoter areas) and I would support all measures that help them to remain viable. 


Malcolm M. Mercer

I support the LIRN work jointly being undertaken between FOLA, the TLA and the LSO.


Mitchell Kowalski

Convocation is a board of directors who are to refrain from fettering their decisions in advance. I remain open to all proposals that fall with the LSO mandate and within budget.


M. Steven Rastin

Regional law libraries are the focus of law associations outside of Toronto. Regional law libraries should be properly financed and protected.


Atrisha Lewis

I am supportive. Having consulted with many soles and smalls, and having the benefit of learning more about this issue from Janis Criger and Andrew Spurgeon, I understand the importance of this investment by the LSO.


John F. Fagan

How do we get more lawyers to join and fund their local law associations? Is there anything The Law Society can appropriately do on that question (other than work and lobby for the reduction of legal education and practice maintenance costs, so that local law association membership dues room can be found in more front-line lawyers’ budgets)? I believe we certainly should have staffed local law libraries in all the county seats around the province. I look forward to learning more about how we might ensure the adequate ongoing funding of such libraries, as the current bencher campaign proceeds.


Caryma Sa’d

Funding for staffed law libraries is quintessential to practice outside major urban centers and is key for sole practitioners and small firms. I support maintaining and even augmenting this funding priority by providing more funds for maintenance, staffing and importing of new materials, especially digital materials.


Jonathan Rosenthal

I fully support the funding of staffed local law libraries.


Teresa Donnelly

I support funding local law libraries. Local law associations are very important because they provide resources, mentoring, support and opportunities to come together to learn, to share and support each other through challenging times. They form a network which reduces isolation, enhances competence and enables lawyers to practice in urban and rural areas thereby enhancing access to justice. For my position on supporting local law associations see the attached article from the Law Times:

Paul M. Cooper

There must be funding for staffed local libraries. Simply put, if you practice outside Toronto, you get it and you protect it. It is about community and access to justice.

James Mays

As a past president of the MLA and with a practice that allows me to travel through most of SW Ontario – I understand that the county library system is a centre for competency, mentoring, collegiality, CPD and the formation of support networks. I support the county library system.

Mirilyn Sharp

It is absolutely essential that local law libraries continue to be funded. Those of us who work in big firms need to recognize that not all lawyers across Ontario have access to on line research tools or places in which to meet other lawyers and/or clients. Law Libraries serve this purpose and are essential for small and solo firms, particularly those in regions outside the main hubs.



Nathan Baker

Local law libraries are often under-appreciated by lawyers in practice.  They provide much needed help to the practicing bar.  Funding for staffed libraries is a must to ensure competence and to aid access to justice.  Many lawyers do not know they exist and the wide variety of opportunities they present.  Many of the LSO initiatives could have been improved over the last number of years by utilizing the local associations and their libraries.  Mentorship, CPD, research and networking are all accomplished every day in local law libraries.  The staff are essential for this and need to be properly funded.  As well, using the resources staff already present will allow the LSO to more nimbly deal with issues, provide support in smaller jurisdictions and increase access to justice by providing research and access to resources for a fraction of the cost to each lawyer.


E Patrick Shea, LSM

In my experience, cases can be won or lost based on legal research, and librarians and library technicians are part of the team that ensures clients receive quality legal representation.  I am fortunate to practice in Toronto and to have access to the excellent librarians and library technicians both in my firm and at the Great Library.  I know, however, that this is not the case all over Ontario.  If, for example, you practice in Iroquois Falls, my home town, you are 1-hour drive from a law library and the resources available are limited.  On-line research tools such as CanLII are helpful, but not a complete solution to a lawyer’s research requirements.  Solutions such as digitized libraries may assist, but librarians and library technicians are essential.


Deepa Tailor

Funding local law libraries and law associations should be a top priority for the LSO.  It is a necessary resource for sole practitioners and lawyers in small firms and promotes access to justice.


Addison Cameron-Huff

The LSO should investigate digital resources that can be shared with all licensees so that everyone in Ontario, no matter where they live, has the supports necessary to provide high quality legal services to their clients. 


Claire Wilkinson

Funding local law libraries must continue and be a priority for the LSO.  Law libraries are the lifeblood for many county law associations, and are a primary source of support, both administrative and social, for many solo and small firm practitioners.


Barbara Murchie

I support current funding. I’m from a small town. I know how important local libraries can be.


Isfahan Merali

I believe that access to legal information is critical, particularly for rural and small town lawyers. My first job, ever, was in a local library, and I worked in my law library throughout law school. I understand how important they are to communities and for sharing and maintaining knowledge. I would work on this issue collaboratively and respectfully.


François Baril

Digitalisation should enhance local libraries but not replace them. Staffed local libraries are an essential resource particularly for small practitioners. We need to find creative and collaborative ways to ensure they remain funded, viable and relevant.


Gina Papageorgiou

We should fund local law libraries. They are important in smaller communities, not only for lawyers, but they are also a hub where members of the public go to seek out legal information.


Jayashree Goswami

I support the funding of staffed local law libraries. Law libraries are a necessity for lawyers, paralegals, practices and alternate legal service providers who cannot afford expensive electronic subscriptions to research portals and other publications. Taking away libraries and librarians would disproportionately prejudice those without means.


D. Jared Brown

Local law libraries can be an important resource, however, not every Licensee needs or uses this resource. Without anything approaching universality of usage, and the low barriers of access to information in the digital age, there is no business case for the regulator to fund these entities or look to the annual dues of all Licensees to fund them.


Robert Besunder

This is a must, not only for the legal profession (lawyers and paralegals equally), but for the public. Not every practitioner has access to enhanced online legal research tools (such as Lexis Advance), because of cost factors, and a local law library, with qualified staff available for licencees to use for assistance, helps bring quality legal information to those practitioners. For the public, access to CanLII and Google are helpful, but a law library provides a resource where questions can be answered by qualified individuals, helping to direct them to appropriate sources. With so many people being forced to represent themselves, it is imperative that we have local law libraries supported, to help bridge that gap in access to legal knowledge.


Tanya Walker

I support the current level of funding. I believe that local law libraries are an important public resource.

Yavar Hameed

Local law libraries are an important resource here in the East Region as they are, I believe, in various communities across Ontario. I have relied on our local law library in Ottawa for approximately two decades; however, have also had the benefit of the Supreme Court library, the Library of Parliament and the legal libraries of two Universities in Ottawa. In smaller communities that do not have all of these diverse resources, local law libraries fill a vital role where there is no alternative. Their continued survival represents an access to justice issue in Ontario.






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