How the Kavanaugh Hearing is an Access to Justice Travesty

At the beginning of this season, I wrote a blog arguing for the importance of framing the A2J debate as a narrative about power – who has it, who doesn’t, and what the consequences are. I could not have imagined that within a month we would be witnessing one of the most remarkable examples of power in action, in a quasi-legal process: the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s nomination hearing for Brett Kavanaugh. The effort to reconcile and adjudicate the conflicting testimonies [...]

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Crazy, Uncontrolled, Bad: How Serena Williams was Punished

The world was riveted by the conflict that descended on the US Women’s Tennis Final on Saturday night. Subsequent days have produced an outpouring of argument over the behaviour of Serena Williams, who was competing for the coveted title against Naomi Osaka. Williams lost after a series of code violations were called against her by the chair umpire, violations that are rarely called (almost never against male players), and which culminated in a forfeited game at a crucial time in [...]

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Inequality and Discrimination in the Justice System

Of the most important life lessons I have learned in the last 35 years, many have been about recognizing inequality and powerlessness. Growing up in a rural island community that presented as 100% white, Christian, and heterosexual, I was unaware of anyone from a different religious or ethnic group, or a different sexual identity, until I went to university – where in 1976, there was just one black student on the campus. Learning about those different from ourselves is never straightforward. [...]

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NSRLP’s Stubborn Hope for Change

As we approach our annual summer office closure (August 9-27), it’s always a good time to reflect on  what we’ve been up to, and what lies ahead. NSRLP now has a higher level of service and productivity on behalf of SRLs and those who work with them than ever before. But … despite our growth, and the emergence of other new programs and services for SRLs, we are still not even close to meeting the needs of those trying to navigate [...]

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Punishing and Deterring SRLs Using Costs Awards: A Failed Strategy?

In early 2012, I had just begun the research that would later be published in May 2013 as the National SRL Study, and was the impetus for the ongoing work of the NSRLP. I was still a neophyte about the self-representation phenomenon. I had visited the study field sites in BC, Ontario, and Alberta, and had commenced detailed, semi-structured interviews with SRLs, both in-person, and by phone. Early on I was struck by the consistency of SRL replies to my [...]

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21st Century Lawyering: Arrogance v Humility

A guest blog by Tania Perlin, a lawyer working with SRLs and a member of the Self-Rep Navigators I have realized over the years that being a lawyer has its perks. As soon as I mention that I am a lawyer, certain disputes get resolved very quickly, such as being upgraded to a better hotel room when the hotel has made a mistake. Or getting a prompt response from a nursing home supervisor after I saw an attendant was speaking and [...]

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From Shock to Determination: How Working for NSRLP has Affected Me

This week’s guest blog is written by NSRLP Project Coordinator Dayna Cornwall.  Dayna Cornwall In October of 2016, Julie hired me to be the NSRLP’s new Project Coordinator. I was thrilled to start my new job, and honoured to be tasked with the management of this plucky, grassroots non-profit. I knew I could keep the organization humming, was eager to share my ideas for growth, and could tell that Julie would be a fantastic boss. But I was a complete virgin [...]

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NSRLP’s New Research Report on Access to Court Transcripts

One of the topics that comes up frequently in the NSRLP office at Windsor Law – in my supervision sessions with our research assistants, at our weekly team meetings, during strategy sessions with the NSRLP Advisory Board, and in day-to-day planning with NSRLP staff – is that the influx of self-represented litigants has changed everything in the legal system. Not just some things – literally everything. For example: The SRL phenomenon has changed how we evaluate the accessibility and user-friendliness of [...]

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Motherisk, Pintea, and Summary Judgment in Child Protection Cases

This week’s guest blog is written by Kate Kehoe. Kate was counsel to the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto from 1999 – 2007. She is now a consultant in Ottawa, and acted as a Policy Analyst & Writer for the Motherisk Commission. Kate Kehoe As regular readers of the NSRLP blog know, the use of summary judgment motions (SJMs) has a serious and detrimental impact on self-represented litigants. In recent years, these motions have been brought with increasing frequency by Children’s [...]

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Déjà Vu: We Keep Asking the Wrong Questions about Licensing Reform

The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) has produced a licensing reform report setting out proposals for “transitional education” – that is, taking law students from graduation to their call to the bar. The LSO’s Professional Development and Competence Committee has proposed four options for which they are now seeking feedback. Billed as “a plan for a long-term, sustainable licensing system” to meet the “profound disruption and transformation of the legal profession”, the four proposed options are: No change. Same licensing model, but [...]

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