In 2014, The Law Foundation of Ontario marks its 40th anniversary and celebrates the many accomplishments of access to justice champions since the organization was founded.
Over the past 40 years, The Law Foundation of Ontario has had the privilege of supporting exceptional people and organizations in their access to justice work. We are proud to support them and we look forward to continuing our work together for a justice system that is truly accessible,” says Foundation Chair Mark J. Sandler.
The Law Foundation of Ontario was created by provincial legislation on January 17, 1974. It is the only Ontario Foundation with a primary focus on enhancing access to justice and by the end of 2013 it had provided more than $900 million in funding for organizations working to that end.
Through its vital funding, broad network and progressive vision, the Foundation has become a key catalyst for an accessible justice system in Ontario. The Foundation has achieved its impact by empowering committed leaders – law students and NGO staff, lawyers and paralegals, law commissions and legal clinics – to solve our most important problems through a better understanding of law and a better functioning justice system,” says Lorne Sossin, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and a former Foundation Trustee.
The Foundation’s primary source of revenue is the interest earned on lawyer and paralegal mixed trust accounts. The Law Society Act mandates that the interest from these accounts be directed to the Foundation and that 75%, after operating expenses, be paid to Legal Aid Ontario. Since its inception, the Foundation has disbursed approximately $675 million to Legal Aid Ontario.
The Foundation uses the remaining 25% of these funds to pursue its mission through a variety of fellowships, awards, and innovative grants to improve access to justice – particularly for disadvantaged groups. Foundation funding enables organizations in Ontario to help people understand the law and how they can use it to improve their lives, and to foster excellence in the work of lawyers, paralegals and other legal professionals.
The Foundation also receives funds from the proceeds of class action lawsuits where the court has made a cy-près award in its favour. The Foundation uses these funds to make grants across the country through the Access to Justice Fund. The Foundation has made grants from the fund in every province with a focus on consumer rights, domestic violence, aboriginal issues, linguistic & rural barriers to access to justice, and self-help.
In addition to the annual payments to Legal Aid Ontario, the Foundation has approved approximately $242 million in grants since 1974. The Foundation approved 80 grants in 2013 alone.