Marc Sauvé, President of AJEFO
Access to justice is a concern for most, if not all, in the legal profession, but it has quickly become more than talk with the dawn of COVID-19.
“Access to justice is a fundamental right, not an accessory.” – The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin
In recent months, progress has been made in integrating legal innovation into the justice system. Despite significant strides, we often tend to neglect the needs of the francophone population.
In 2012, the French Language Services Bench and Bar Advisory Committee to the Attorney General of Ontario identified what needs to be done in order to improve access to justice for francophones in Ontario.
One of the Committee’s findings was that “there is inadequate coordination of the delivery of bilingual and French proceedings with the legal profession.”
Lawyer Marc Sauvé encounters this reality on a daily basis, and we could say that he is here to “Sauvé” the day.
We wouldn’t be wrong.
Marc’s practice includes civil and commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on medical malpractice cases as well as catastrophic personal injury matters. Marc has appeared before various tribunals, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
In 2019, Marc was the recipient of the Regional Senior Justice Award which honours a lawyer in practice ten years or less who has made an outstanding contribution as a litigator or as a solicitor within the profession through their excellence as a professional.
With such an impressive career, it seems as if he has done it all, but one cause is at his heart most – the francophone cause.
“I hail from eastern Ontario, a town where half of the population speaks English and the other half speaks French. So, from a young age, bilingualism and language rights are very dear to me”, Marc reflects.
However, becoming a lawyer was not the initial plan,
"I finished my undergraduate studies in psychology. I always loved solving problems, but I didn’t really have a passion for psychology. I was then introduced to the law by my spouse, who is herself a lawyer. I saw that as a lawyer I could help people by solving problems with concrete actions, so I decided to pursue a legal career''.
In addition to his passion for helping others, Marc also found an opportunity to promote the francophone cause in the legal profession with the AJEFO (Association of French Speaking Jurists of Ontario).
After serving in several capacities at the AJEFO, in June 2020 he was elected to the presidency of the AJEFO Board of Directors for a two-year term - the youngest lawyer to ever accede to the presidency since its founding 40 years ago.
In this era of opportunity, major changes are on the horizon for the justice system, and Marc is well aware of the potential for legal innovation:
“The courts are swamped, which makes the process quite difficult for lawyers and their clients. So, more and more lawyers prefer arbitration for certain cases rather than appearing before a judge.”
As an avant-garde, he also sees an opportunity in this virtual world in order to facilitate access to justice,
“In a virtual context, travel costs are avoided, making it much easier for a francophone client in Toronto, for example, to be able to have a lawyer located in Ottawa, who will comparatively charge lower legal fees. This could create healthy competition and more affordable legal services.”
As Marc suits up for the next battle on behalf of the francophonie in a world of uncertainty, it is the vigour of legal practitioners like him that gives us hope, and allows us to cling to the dream of equitable access to justice for all.
You can connect with Marc on:
Source: Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario