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Part Two: Making it Real – A Legal Education in the Public Interest

Part One of this blog (The End of a Love Affair? Why I Despair About Legal Education) was pretty bleak. It articulated my frustrations with the disconnect between legal education and the realities of legal practice and client service, and our slow steps towards meaningful change. It also clearly resonated with many of you whom I heard from last week. In that earlier piece, I highlighted three fundamental disconnects: Law school classes rarely describe or simulate the work that lawyers actually do. [...]

The End of a Love Affair? Why I Despair About Legal Education

(Part 2 of this blog is “Making it Real: A Legal Education in the Public Interest”) When I became a law professor more than thirty years ago, I was convinced that legal education was a powerful tool to shape legal practice in the future by instilling a client-focused philosophy, and the skills and ethics that would foster this. Intoxicated by the possibilities of using education to change the adversarial culture of legal practice, I was a law school junkie – dropping [...]

New Data on SRLs: The Spectacular Rise of the Savvy Self-Represented Litigant

This week we published our latest SRL Intake Report, collating and analyzing the information we received from 73 self-reps who completed the Intake Form posted on the NSRLP website between April 2015 and December 2016. Although the SRLs who have the patience and time to complete the Intake Form (thank you!) comprise a fraction of those who reach out to the Project annually, we have been tracking their encounters with the justice system and sharing it with both the legal [...]

2017 Could be the Year of the Paralegal – Or, Will #AltFacts Prevail?

I once memorably shared a stage at a public meeting organized by the Ottawa Writer’s Festival on the Access to Justice crisis with the (then) Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada. It was a Saturday afternoon, and the hall was packed. After his presentation – in which he sought to play down the A2J crisis (“it’s not really a crisis”), the Treasurer was asked by an audience member why the Society did not permit paralegals (whom the Society [...]

Robin Camp Latest: Bogus Arguments about what the Public Thinks about His Removal from the Bench (Without Consulting any Actual Members of the Public)

Robin Camp is a federal court judge who, following a series of offensive remarks made in a sexual assault trial, was the subject of a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) and a subsequent inquiry. In November, the CJC recommended his removal from the Bench. In their lengthy brief submitted on January 6th asking, once again (having been rejected in December) for an opportunity to make further (to the week-long hearing in September) oral submissions, Robin Camp’s three lawyers [...]

Working With, Not Against the Public: A New Year Manifesto for the NSRLP

As 2016 drew to a close, we heard a lot of angst and analysis about the seismic events of the year. And yes – this was going on in my household too. I had looked on in disbelief as my home country voted in June to leave the European Union – falling prey to deeply rooted fears of immigrants and apparent nostalgia for the days of Empire. Then in November we watched as the U.S. – where I have family, [...]

Without a Litigation Representative, Brain-Damaged Plaintiff Forced to Represent Herself by Court that Alters Her Competency Designation

One of the stories that haunted me from the 2013 National Study was told me by a woman (“Fiona”) who, following a traumatic brain injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident that ended her career, was trying to recover spousal support arrears. She had had a lawyer, but like many of the SRLs in the study, had run out of funds to continue. Fiona explained to the settlement conference judge that as a person with a brain injury, she [...]

Self-Represented Litigants Stumble Finding Answers to Procedural Questions: But a Solution is within Reach

This week’s blog is written by Heather Hui-Litwin, a long-time friend of NSRLP, former SRL and co-founder of the Self-Rep Navigators group in Toronto ( Heather recounts her experience trying to track down procedural information for a SRL she is assisting. The 2013 Study, and our continued daily contact with SRLs at the NSRLP, demonstrates how much SRLs worry and stress about navigating court procedures, and the significance of access to accurate procedural information. Heather’s personal experiment described below shows [...]

The Continuing Growth of SRL Jurisprudence: Two Encouraging Rays of Light

There have been some worrisome developments recently in the jurisprudence concerning self-represented litigants – but also, in the last few weeks, two important rays of light. Punishing self-rep mistakes with costs Three weeks ago I wrote my blog on Dorey v Dorey, an Ontario Superior Court decision that imposed $15,000 worth of legal costs on a SRL who was judged to have intentionally and mischievously protracted litigation via multiple filings and exhibits, by not making an Offer to Settle, and her [...]

Two Tales Illustrating the Importance of Unbundled Legal Services for Access to Justice

This week NSRLP released the National Database of Professionals Assisting SRLs, along with a video (watch here: encouraging lawyers to consider offering unbundled legal services, and featuring endorsements by Chief Justice Robert Bauman of British Columbia, Chief Justice Michael MacDonald of Nova Scotia, and Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco of the Ontario Superior Court. This is an initiative that we have been working on since last spring, slowly coaxing lawyers and others to step forward and become part of [...]