Plain language and good communication part of access to justice

Executive Director Joh Kirby at the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference

Executive Director Joh Kirby at the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference

Victoria Law Foundation was proud to support last month’s National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference in Melbourne. It’s theme – communication – is at the heart of our work in helping Victorians understand the law and legal system, and the high calibre of speakers did not disappoint.

Plain language took centre stage for the opening plenary session. University of Cape Town’s Professor of Law Halton Cheadle made an impact with his address on the drafting of the South African Constitution, highlighting the benefits its plain language approach sixteen years on. Our own Executive Director Joh Kirby offered an Australian perspective, and shared the findings of her Churchill Fellowship on best practice community legal information. Read Halton’s conference paper or read why Joh thinks good communication matters in the debate about access to justice.

Internationally recognised plain language expert Christopher Balmford (Words and Beyond) kicked off the second day of the conference, offering valuable insight and practical advice for improving the quality of legal writing. His recommended resources (and more) are available on the plain language section of our website.

For much of the conference Joh was happily bailed up by people who share our vision for making the law easier to understand. Copies of our Better Information Handbook were in constant demand. And the conversation continued online, drawing comments on Twitter from those attending the conference as well as legal practitioners and plain language advocates across the globe. We were overwhelmed by this support.

In October, to coincide with International Plain Language Day, Joh will present at an International Plain Language Conference in Vancouver. We’ve also just announced our next three free plain language workshops for legal practitioners in Victoria. Details are on our website.

We’d love to hear about your efforts to use plain language in your legal work, so please join the conversation on this blog or on Twitter (#plainlanguage).

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