Access to Justice Week & National Duty Counsel Day (Oct. 27, 2021) Videos

Below are links to videos from judges and justices in Nova Scotia regarding duty counsel. It’s Access to Justice Week (Oct. 25-29) and these videos confirm the importance of duty counsel in the justice system.

Chief Judge Pamela Williams

Associate Chief Justice Lawrence O’Neil

Chief Justice Michael Wood

To view all videos from across Canada, please visit:

October 27, 2021 Proclaimed National Duty Counsel Day in Nova Scotia

In recognition of Canada’s first Duty Counsel Day being held on October 27, 2021, a proclamation has been signed by the Honourable Tim Houston, Premier of Nova Scotia, proclaiming October 27, 2021 as National Duty Counsel Day in the Province of Nova Scotia. A copy of the proclamation is below outlining the importance of Duty Counsel in the justice system.

Nova Scotia Legal Aid Acting Chief Executive Officer

Karen Hudson, QC is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of NSLA. This is a temporary appointment until the new CEO is in place. Karen was formerly the Executive Director of NSLA and Chair of the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada until her appointment in 2016 as the Deputy Minister of Justice.

Farwell & Congratulations to Megan Longley, QC, Chief Executive Officer

It is with regret that we say farewell to Megan Longley, QC, Chief Executive Officer, as her last day with Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) will be October 7, 2021. Megan will be greatly missed by NSLA staff and the Commission.  We wish to express our appreciation for her leadership and her tremendous contributions over the past 22 years toward access to justice for those who are vulnerable and historically disadvantaged.

We wish to congratulate Megan on her new position as Executive Director of Dalhousie Legal Aid Service and wish her all the best in her new role.


National Duty Counsel Day – October 27, 2021

Anyone can suddenly find themselves in the justice system. It’s important we know our rights and how to exercise them. It’s so important that it’s in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Most Canadians know about access to services like healthcare. Few know we have similar access to legal services. Let’s change that. Know your rights. Know duty counsel.

National Duty Counsel Day will be held on October 27, 2021 featuring:

  • Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada
  • Karen Wilford, Chair, Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada
  • Chief Justice Richard Wagner, Supreme Court of Canada
  • Patti Laboucane-Benson, Senator, Alberta
  • Q&A with duty counsel lawyers from across Canada
  • Music performance
  • Special guest messages

For more information visit:

View videos regarding Duty Counsel on the above website or on YouTube at:

Be sure to register at: Duty Counsel Day – National Virtual Event Tickets, Wed, 27 Oct 2021 at 3:00 PM | Eventbrite

Podcasts – Getting Familiar with Family Law

Paul Stordy, NSLA Information Services & Summary Advice Managing Lawyer, and two law students did podcasts for the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia (LISNS). Two separate episodes included topics of Nova Scotia Legal Aid’s services, family law services and COVID 19 issues, divorce, and intimate partner violence. To access the podcasts, visit and click on icon for “Family” and click on “Podcasts – Getting Familiar with Family Law podcasts” from the list.

Emancipation Day – August 1st

This year on August 1st Nova Scotia will mark Emancipation Day as an officially designated day for the first time. We encourage everyone to reflect on the history of the Province as well as consider positive steps you can take toward ending anti-Black racism.

Ideas on how to recognize Emancipation Day can be found here:

History from Nova Scotia can be found here:

Nova Scotia Legal Aid is finalizing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan. The Plan will include development of improved policies regarding hiring and retention, and strategies to ensure NSLA is practicing anti-Black racism in our internal and external work. Thank you to NSLA’s Equity and Racial Diversity Committee (ERDC) for leading this work and to everyone who participated.

Some other highlights of recent and ongoing work at NSLA include:

  • Engaging the recommendations under the Marshall Inquiry specific to Legal Aid by:
    • The training for all staff, and approving two lawyers auditing the African Nova Scotians and the Law course at Schulich; and
    • Creating a permanent African Nova Scotian Social Worker to support our clients in criminal and child protection proceedings.
  • Leadership in creation and development of Impact of Race and Culture Assessments, including supporting an intervention in the Anderson case before the Court of Appeal.
  • We are looking forward to supporting and collaborating with the newly funded African Nova Scotian Justice Institute.

Video – Impact on Race and Culture Assessments and the Effects of Systemic Anti-Black Racism on Sentencing Hearings

Brandon Rolle, Managing Lawyer, HRM Youth Office, participated in the May 10, 2021 Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) panel discussion on Impact of Race and Culture Assessments and the effects of systemic anti-black racism in sentencing hearings. The video of the May 10th session can be found here:

Mass Casualty (Portapique) Inquiry Participants

Nova Scotia Legal Aid is pleased to have its application approved as a participant in the inquiry. As participants in several different aspects of the justice system, NSLA’s systemic and institutional knowledge as well as its client-focused perspective would be different from that of others in the system. Below is a link to the CBC article “Commission examining N.S. mass killing announces inquiry participants” outlining the approved participants.

CBC Article

Roger Burrill Recipient of 2021 CBA Legal Aid Leader Award

Congratulations to Roger Burrill for being recognized with the CBA’s National Legal Aid Leader Award for 2021. The Award distinguishes legal aid lawyers who have made notable contributions to advancing access to justice for those in need. Roger was chosen by the CBA Access to Justice Subcommittee for this Award. The honour is well deserved. Roger is currently part of the Presenting Counsel Team of the Mass Casualty Commission, a joint initiative of the federal and provincial governments led by Michael MacDonald, former Chief Justice of Nova Scotia. Details regarding the Award and his accomplishments during his 35 years of service, can be found in the CBA announcement and the Canadian Lawyer article:

CBA National

Canadian Lawyer