My Internship Experience at the CRT
By Temitayo Osinbajo, CRT summer intern
“It’s an online tribunal in BC, I’m going to be working from home in Toronto.”
“Wait! What? How?!”
This was the exact exchange I had over 20 times this summer, whenever I talked to anyone about my summer internship with the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal (the CRT). I began my internship with the CRT after completing a 3-week boot camp in Toronto with the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP). IFLP is a non-profit organization, and partnered with Clio to provide funding for my internship.
Now looking back on my 10 weeks with the CRT, it all seems completely normal to me to use technology to deliver justice services at a distance. While all other CRT staff work in BC, many of them work remotely. The very fact that I could work remotely from Toronto for my internship epitomizes the innovative, flexible and user-focused model of the CRT.
The first of its kind in Canada, the CRT is an online administrative tribunal that resolves small claims, strata and motor vehicle injury disputes. Most recently (during my internship) they also added on disputes in the area of societies and cooperative associations.
One key element of the CRT is a focus on making the entire dispute resolution process as accessible as possible for the residents of BC. One way the CRT does this is by ensuring all the content on their website and expert system is written in accessible language. The target is a grade 6 reading level. So, one of my jobs as legal innovation intern was to read the legislation for the CRT’s societies and cooperatives jurisdiction and translate it to a grade 6 reading level. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to explain legal jargon using language a middle-schooler would understand, but this was no small feat. However, I thoroughly enjoyed doing it! The focus on plain languaging complex legal concepts is one that I’m sure I’ll find useful in my legal career, and it’s not something that I have been exposed to in law school yet.
You have some ideas about what working from home would be like and some of those ideas turn out to be misconceptions. Although most people at the CRT work from home, everyone was very formal (with the right amount of friendliness) like they would be if they worked in a physical office. People were always on time to meetings and meetings started and ended as scheduled. It was very impressive!
If there’s one thing I’d say I liked least about my internship (and there really is just one thing) it’s the missed opportunity to visit, live in and work in British Columbia. As much as I loved working from the comfort of my home in Toronto, I’ve never been to BC and I’d definitely love to! On the bright side, when I do eventually visit, there would at least be a couple friendly voices* that I’d be happy to meet in person for the first time!
* I had all my meetings with CRT staff over audio calls, so despite working for the CRT for 10 weeks, I have yet to meet anyone in person. I just know them by their voices!