5 Ways to Talk about A2J Over a Summer BBQNSRLP
For the last three months, NSRLP has been focusing on the theme of “communication” and its importance in making progress towards greater access to justice in Canada.
If we cannot talk to one another, we cannot have the type of rich stakeholder discussion and debate that is necessary to begin to resolve such a complex problem (look back at our kick-off blog on “The Shut-Up Culture” at https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2015/04/07/the-shut-up-culture-why-we-need-to-speak-openly-boldly-respectfully-to-one-other-about-what-really-matters; and the conversation between one SRL and three members of the NSRLP Advisory Board: https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2015/04/28/dear-nsrlp-advisory-board-a-letter-from-a-srl/).
If we cannot make space for different views that come from different experiences, we will forestall innovation and the creative, open-minded thinking that we desperately need (see the NSRLP Client Communication Feedback Survey at https://representingyourselfcanada.com/client-communication-feedback-survey/: promoting the use of a simple client feedback survey on how well lawyers listen and communicate with clients).
If we are careless in how we use language and fail to explain and communicate as inclusively as possible, the quality of our dialogue will suffer (see our look at Plain Language initiatives and their history in Canada: https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2015/05/12/we-were-promised-a-plain-language-revolution-but-all-i-got-was-this-t-shirt-with-a-slogan-on-it/).
If we privilege only one profession’s powerful voice and exclude the related voices, our so-called solutions will miss the mark, and plans that look great on paper will not work in practice (see our hugely popular Take the Pledge initiative (https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2015/05/26/take-the-pledge-we-are-legal-service-professionals-not-lawyers-and-non-lawyers/: eschewing the expression “non-lawyer” in favor of “legal services professional”).
As we move into our summer break at NSRLP, we hope for some relaxing days to recharge our batteries. But the A2J conversation can carry on even then – we all need the practice.
So here are some suggestions for how to start potentially productive and stimulating discussions at backyard summer BBQs.
- Do you think that the fact that more than half of Canadians going to court on divorce and family matters cannot afford/ don’t have lawyers to speak for them will be the subject of any political ads in the fall federal election?
(Looking ahead: NSRLP will be developing a slate of A2J questions for federal candidates in the upcoming election.)
- My friend/ colleague/ neighbor/ family member tried to bring a claim to court without a lawyer, but they were barred from proceeding by a “summary judgment” by a judge who told them that they had done the paperwork wrong. Is that fair? Oh, I’ll take mine with mustard and ketchup, thank you…
(Looking ahead: NSRLP will be publishing the results of our research project with Katrina Trask in the fall that examines what lies behind a huge change in the use of summary judgments over the last 10 years, and specifically against SRLs.)
- The scorching of that hot dog on the grill reminds me of how my friend/ colleague/ neighbor/ family member described to me their experience of appearing in court without a lawyer last week. Actually I would prefer mine less charred.
(Looking ahead: NSRLP plans to update “Tips and Suggestions from the Bench” our resource for judges and SRLs this Fall and produce a 2nd edition in collaboration with our team of judge-authors.)
- I love to experiment with new BBQ recipes, but sometimes I find they include ingredients I have never heard of and cooking terms that I don’t understand. Sort of like going to court, when SRLs read and hear all these legal terms that they don’t understand.
(Looking ahead: the French translation of the “Can Lii Primer” (https://representingyourselfcanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/nsrlp-canlii-primer-v11.pdf) will be available in the fall.)
- I was browsing craigslist the other day and I noticed lots of advertisements offering assistance in preparing for court. Some ads even offered to actually go into court with people who don’t have lawyers, sit with them upfront and help them to stay calm and focused. So I guess this is a thing now, right?
(Looking ahead: NSRLP plans to release the results of our research with Judith da Silva – based on her interviews with judges – into the potential of using McKenzie Friends in late fal
Happy BBQ-ing. See you in August.
Julie & Sue