‘We’re In the Trenches Here’: Criminal Defense Work with Marginalized Clients in Rural and Northern Canada
Présenté en 2024 par Cecília Batista à la Law & Society Association à Denver.





Both in the US and in Canada, research has shown how access to justice is especially complicated for marginalized individuals in rural or remote areas. Yet, little is known about how criminal defense lawyers navigate supporting disadvantaged clients outside urban centers. In our study, we draw from 145 in-depth interviews documenting the perspectives and practices of criminal defense lawyers in urban and non-urban regions of eastern Canada. Focusing primarily on 40 participants working in rural and northern courts, we identify three key themes, related to their work representing marginalized clients. First, we report on how participants experience unique challenges related to geographic remoteness, delayed court processes and local resources gaps. Second, we document strategies they use to navigate this environment and help accused secure a better outcome: going above and beyond their formal duties, taking on extreme amounts of travelling and making use of technology. Third, we describe, and analyze, how they talk about working with other legal actors that populate court communities, like prosecutors and judges. We discuss the relevance of our findings in light of recent debates about expanding therapeutic justice, improving access to legal aid supports and community resources, and addressing the over representation of indigenous people in courts and corrections.