2nd Annual “Bring a SRL to Law School Day”NSRLP
On Monday March 16th, “Bring a Self-Represented Litigant to Law School Day” was held at Windsor Law, Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Ottawa Law School.
Each school opened up classes for the day to a group of local self-represented litigants, who were accompanied throughout the day by student “buddies”. Deans Chris Waters, Lorne Sossin and Nathalie Des Rosiers offered the SRLs a personal welcome on behalf of faculty and students before SRLs left to attend classes.
Each school also held a lunchtime panel where the SRL guests described their experiences in the legal system and talked with law students about what they believed that that future lawyers needed to know and to understand about the SRL experience. At Windsor Law, the panel discussion this year also included lawyers who are making a difference by providing services targeted at the primarily self-represented (Mick Hassell of Hassell Trial Services and Joel Miller of the Family Law Coach).
The SRL guests were enthusiastic about their day at law school, and their comments suggested that a major goal of the day – raising law student awareness of the realities of self-representation, and introducing them personally to some SRLs – is being accomplished.
Chantal McCollum, a first-year Windsor Law student whose experience as a SRL inspired her to attend law school said “My classmates learned by listening to our visitors. I think students got a sense that these people suffered.”
Jana Saracevic, a SRL who is a member of the CASSL National Steering Committee attended the Osgoode event and commented: “The SRL panel discussion at lunchtime created a welcome window of opportunity to have a healthy discourse and dialogue between students, professors, and SRLs. We collaborated in building bridges to help us understand each others point of view. This process marks the beginning of a new relationship.” Another Osgoode attendee, Barbara Captijn, a consumer advocate and former SRL, stressed the importance of this new relationship: “Thank you so much for the respect and kindness you showed us as SRLs, and for the opportunity to let us speak.”
Next year, NSRLP hopes to expand “Bring a SRL to Law School Day” to even more Canadian law schools.