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“How Can I Help You?” Clarifying Legal Advice/ Legal Information

NSRLP – in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice Court Services and consultant John Greacen – recently completed a Legal Information/ Legal Advice pilot project that focused on clarifying the types of assistance and information that can be provided to SRLs by court services staff (“How Can I Help You?” Clarifying the Legal Advice/ Legal Information Distinction for Court Staff and the Public”, 2014). Revised guidelines for distinguishing legal information from legal advice were used as the basis [...]

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Launching the NSRLP YouTube channel

We are excited to announce the launch of our new YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW0ma3u7Dlw To supplement our social media platform, we have added a NSRLP YouTube Channel to be able to offer you “face to face” stories of SRL experiences, as well as presentations by Dr Macfarlane describing the results of the National SRL Study, and ways to move forward. To kick off our channel, we are featuring a short (15 minute) professional video made by Julie for the British Columbia Benchers retreat [...]

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The Global Voice of the SRL: IAALS

NSRLP is partnering with IAALS (the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, based at the University of Denver: see www.iaals.org) to replicate the original Canadian study methodology in three US states. The IAALS study will focus on the experiences of family litigants who are representing themselves. There is great interest among US policymakers, law associations and reform bodies in gathering the in-depth data the National SRL study obtained directly from individuals representing themselves in family and civil [...]

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Reports from the Cromwell Roadshow

Following publication of the National Action Committee Reports, Mr Justice Cromwell spoke at meetings across Canada about his recommendations for change. Sue represented NSRLP in Toronto and Edmonton, and SRL Jennifer Muller was invited to the Vancouver meeting. Sue writes: “One comment made by Mr Justice Cromwell in both venues stood out for me: ‘We need to broaden the conversation and get the public voice involved.’ Comparing the two events, it seemed that the greater the representation of “non-lawyer” social [...]

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On Your Mind: What three changes to the practice of law would make it more responsive to SRLs?

Rob Harvie, QC (Bencher, Alberta Law Society) The anxiety and uncertainty inherent in participating in the legal system impacts everyone. Too often, we polarize ourselves into “us” and “them”. When we feel anxiety, we form groups of common sentiment – and sometimes we deconstruct our “enemies” and minimize the reality of their perspective. For SRLs, the uncertainty of outcomes and the complexity of the system means that they have even higher levels of anxiety and fear. The result is a [...]

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My Story: Derek Perry

  Derek Parry – a country pastor – never expected to find himself representing himself in family court., “As a result of my gullibility and stupidity, I got caught in a marriage scam”.  After his very short marriage ended, Derek wanted an annulment and retained a lawyer.  It seemed to him that the case was relatively simple – after just 5 days of married life, there were no children and no asset disputes.  Derek was willing to assist his former [...]

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On Your Mind: What three changes to the justice system would you propose to make it more responsive to SRLs?

Matt Cohen (Director of Litigation Projects – Pro Bono Ontario) Making recommendations to improve the justice system is the easy part.  The hard part is implementing things in the foreseeable future that will help people who are struggling.  The changes below can directly assist SRLs within 1-2 years at low cost. Legal opinions for everyone seeking to start a Superior Court action.  It can be hard enough to navigate the justice system without an expert agent.  It is far worse to [...]

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The Global Voice of the SRL: Brigitte Toy-Cronin

In New Zealand, Brigitte Toy-Cronin is interviewing SRLs in family and civil court about their experience. Self-representation is running just as high in New Zealand as in Canada, and up to now the new and controversial Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill will make self-representation mandatory in the early stages of many family court proceedings. Like the National SRL Study in Canada, Brigitte wants to find out more about what this experience is like for people and is using a website [...]

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My Story: Rhonda Nordlander-Nalii

Rhonda contacted the SRL Project back in the Fall of 2012 when we were still interviewing participants. As a receptionist at a community legal clinic, Rhonda was accustomed to working with people who had legal problems and could not afford counsel – and then after an acrimonious divorce, she found herself in the same position. While Rhonda was legally aided for her initial divorce, this only covered the custody aspects of the case (which are in fact still in dispute, [...]

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