A2J – Altruism or Something Else?

In the poetic lyrics of the late Gord Downie, it “coulda been the Willie Nelson, [it] coulda been the wine.” As I sit here late on a Wednesday night after a few glasses of wine and a few too many hours of legal research, I feel my mind wandering. My mind wandering to thoughts about my team’s upcoming access to justice app and to notions of access to justice in general.

In the recent months, I have taken an interest in following and discussing the recent developments in access to justice. Whether it be through artificial intelligence or a redesigning of the legal system, there are many good ideas that will, if we can hope, assist those who currently do not have the resources to address their current legal needs. However, the more I read and the more I look into the developments, the more it makes me wonder, are these developments purely to help those in need or is there always some underlying, ulterior motive?

Now don’t get me wrong, even if there is an underlying motive, if the developments in the end are providing more people with access to justice or allowing people to resolve their legal problems at a more affordable cost, then how or where the ideas come from doesn’t matter. However, it seems that many of the ideas for and discussions about access to justice appear to be coming from those who have a monetary stake in the successful development of their idea, those who are using the promotion of access to justice as a “feel good” initiative, or those who are wanting to be perceived as someone who cares.

Whether or not the ideas are coming from altruistic or self-interested motives, if the results provide greater access to justice, then this is a positive for society. Nonetheless, I find it hard to believe those stating that they want to promote access to justice are doing so because they solely want to help those in need. But I may wrong. So kudos to all those who are making justice more accessible regardless of where your intentions lie.