“We have to start, and this is our beginning”

“We have to start, and this is our beginning” With these words, Howard Goldblatt, the Chair of the Ontario Law Society’s A2J Committee, ushered in a new era of regulatory reform in Ontario that finally recognizes the need for change. The first step is expanding paralegal services to include some family matters, a proposal vocally opposed by many in the Family Bar. A long awaited decision on Bonkalo Last February, the Bonkalo Review of Family Legal Services recommended expansion of paralegal services to [...]

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Access to Justice for the Victims of Sexual Violence

The disclosures of the last five weeks have been extraordinary. Not because it comes as any surprise to me (or to most other women) that there are powerful men who think they can impose themselves on women, often multiple women – physically, sexually, verbally – and who believe they will never be checked for their bad behavior.  This is part of almost all women’s lives. But now, suddenly, there is a feeling that people are listening. Not just listening to ridicule [...]

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SRLs with Disabilities: Dealing with a Double Whammy

One of the most eye-opening aspects of working on self-representation and Access to Justice is the way that the different needs of different groups are increasingly revealed to us. The crisis in affordable legal services affects the majority of our community. So it is unsurprising that particular interests and challenges that are associated with distinct demographics keep appearing. Members of these groups challenge us to consider their specific obstacles to and requirements for Access to Justice, if they are to feel [...]

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When Will Law Schools Confront the SRL Reality?

NSRLP is proud of our initiative to expose law students to the human face of the SRL crisis, and to bring them some much-needed data on the extent of and the reason for the SRL phenomenon. Especially so given that law school classes continue to bury/ suppress/ hide/ neglect/ ignore this information. Here is the Good News SRL Awareness Day (formerly Bring an SRL to Law School Day) went off well at Windsor, Osgoode and Western last week. Ottawa U and Queens [...]

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Time for a Podcast on A2J & Social Justice in Canada: Can We Bring the Two Solitudes Together?

A big part of our focus at the National Self-Represented Litigants Project since 2013 has been using every possible means to create a real conversation among the stakeholders in the justice system – which means not just legal professionals, but the Canadian public as well. We see the legal community as the stewards of the legal system, and the public as its inheritors. A sensible plan for a way forward out of the current A2J crisis or the “quagmire” as [...]

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Has A2J Become a Social Movement?

If A2J is a social movement, its identity and solutions will reflect the needs of users, not just the views of professionals The milestone that Labour Day represents seems a good time to take stock – and to look forward. This is a time of familiar rituals: schools back in session, evenings getting darker, people drifting back from vacations, and that chilled-out summer feeling is starting, sadly, to ebb away. Its seems a good time to broach a big question. Has A2J become [...]

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Putting the Brakes on Summary Judgments Against SRLs

At NSRLP we were thrilled to see the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Khan v. Krylov & Company LLP (2017 ONCA 625) last week. The Court firmly put the brakes on the use of summary judgment procedures – here Ontario’s Rule 2.1 – to eliminate actions that are inadequately pleaded by SRLs. The judgment states: “Rule 2.1 is an extremely blunt instrument. It is reserved for the clearest of cases, where the hallmarks of frivolous, vexatious or abusive litigation are plainly [...]

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The Newer Lawyer and the Client Revolution

Last week the significantly revised second edition of my 2008 book The New Lawyer came out (available on Amazon, or take advantage of a 20% discount until August 15 at the UBC website, extended until September 15 if you are an SRL: code SRL20). This seems a good moment to evaluate what may have changed in the culture of legal practice over the almost ten years between editions (the new edition is affectionately nicknamed “The Newer Lawyer” by my colleagues [...]

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A Tale of Two Systems: A Modern-Day Fable

Our medical system is far from perfect – as a patient for the last seven years I am aware of many of its shortcomings. Some of the same tensions and challenges that are faced by the legal profession exist within the medical system. However, the medical system may be light years ahead of the legal profession in appreciating the importance of inter-related and complimentary roles and skills, and meeting the basic needs of its users. The following is based on [...]

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The Change & Advocacy Blog: How We Each Can Do Our Bit

We were honored by the award of another CLAWBIE for this blog at the end of 2016 in a new category called “Change & Advocacy. The new Clawbie category recognizes “blogs that drive positive change in the legal system.” I will face some challenges to my scholarship and activism in the coming months, as I go back into treatment for cancer. So this blog post is about how we can each find the motivation and the means to do our bit [...]

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