We made our first contacts with the local Provincial Court Judges. We knew well the frustration experienced by women appearing as witnesses in criminal courts. We also knew some members of the Provincial Court personally. The Judges we contacted accepted our invitation for an informal coffee session. We attended this session with supportive facilitators from the local program for abusive men, and this exchange of ideas and problems provided us with the structure for a workshop.
We then approached Prosecutors and offered to do a workshop at their annual conference. By this point we had developed written material for use in the workshops, which provided a way to "market" our work. Legal practitioners who had attended our workshops indicated that the material presented would be important for lawyers to have at the outset of their careers. As in other provinces, each graduate must pass a provincial bar exam and most people wishing to practice in the province attend an annual bar admission course prior to writing the examinations. Our association was interested in reaching this group because many will practice family and criminal law and because, if we could get material included in the bar course, it would be published in binders which are available to and widely purchased by all members of the legal profession.
The written bar course materials are important also because they are often used as precedents by lawyers when drafting documents or researching practical ways of proceeding on individual cases, and they are updated annually. We developed a bar course session which differed markedly from traditional legal presentations, and it received high evaluations from the group which first attended.
Setting a framework to reach most of the legal profession in Saskatchewan was not difficult because we were familiar with what opportunities for education existed. We were also fortunate that participants at our original workshops came from several different types of legal practice. After our initial sessions in the legal community, we simply had to respond to requests for more of this work.