Sexual assault law is a highly specialized and in some instances highly technical area of criminal law. There is a direct link between substantive incompetence on the part of lawyers and judges and the mistreatment of complainants through, for example, improper questioning and reliance on discriminatory stereotypes about rape. In part, the justice gap is a consequence of lack of understanding and knowledge on the part of legal professionals.
CCLISAR pursues educational initiatives aimed at capacity building; for example, by developing and offering advanced legal training for lawyers who are providing independent legal advice for sexual assault survivors under the newly adopted, federally funded programs to offer ILA to survivors free of charge. Since January 2020, CCLISAR has been facilitating consultations related to the Bill C-51 amendments to the sexual history (s.276) and records application (s.278.1-278.94) provisions of the Criminal Code.
As another example of capacity building - CCLISAR partners with law schools to broaden students’ learning experiences. We connect law students with sexual assault experts across the country, facilitate speaker series and workshops aimed at developing substantive expertise in the area of sexual assault law, and provide law students with research stipends to facilitate research projects.