Derek’s Experiences as a Self-Represented Litigant

Derek’s Experiences as a Self-Represented Litigant

Part 1

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Part 2

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  • Ken Chasse Reply

    Your “message to the bar” as to lawyers’ ignoring a great untouched market, implies that lawyers could make money by servicing SRL’s. If they could, they would. Lawyers are desperate for clients. Law firms are failing. That means they have no choice because they would have to provide their services “below cost” to service that untouched market.
    The cause of the problem is not understood. I solved a smaller version of this very same problem by creating LAO LAW, the centralized legal research unit at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), beginning on July 3, 1979. I had what the rest of the legal profession has not had: (1) enough pressure on me to make the necessary innovation happen; and, (2) enough time for “trial and error” learning to discover the true cause of the problem and thereby deliver a large cost-saving to LAO. The necessary strategy is used in all fields of the competitive production of goods and services, except by the legal profession. The profession’s method of delivering legal services is called the “handcraftman’s method,” meaning no outside specialized support services are used by those who do the work. Compare a doctor’s office with a lawyer’s office. No doctor’s office delivers all treatments and medical services to all of its patients. But a lawyer’s office does. Car manufacturers use “special parts companies” to make the new special parts so that: (1) their products improve with each yearly model; and, (2) they do not have to increase the price of those new models because there is an on-going process of innovation that is continuously improving the cost-efficiency with which cars are manufactured.
    The legal profession has no counterpart, but it has its own version of the same cost-price conflict, i.e., having to improve its product without being able to increase its price. The legal profession’s version of the problem is caused by having to maintain the same high quality of service, while having to cope with constantly increasing volumes of laws, their complexity, more laws based on technology to be understood, and many more records relevant to legal services because electronic records technology has automated most of the record-making, filing, and storing of records, and because communication is so much easier now, and in many more ways than pre-electronically. To cope requires more time to deliver each legal service if its present quality is to be maintained. Time has to be paid for. But if there is no mechanism that is constantly improving cost-efficiency, the price of legal services has to go up. That is the cause of the problem. That is why law firms can’t solve it themselves. And that is why only law society-sponsored innovation that moves the legal profession from its present handcraftsman’s method to a support services method, is the only possible solution.
    But benchers first duty is to their clients. They don’t want to get involved with innovation’s demands of time and worry, that might make much more difficult serving their clients. So they adopt strategies of simplifying their time and work as benchers. Innovation is treated as unnecessary and unwelcome. So, the problem persists. And so, a different management structure is needed for law societies, or, the creation of a new agency that will perform the regulatory functions of law societies, leaving them to perform the representative functions, representing the interests of their lawyer-members. The 2 functions create conflicts of interest. Law society management structures, established in the 19th century, cannot solve 21st century “access to justice” problems. (LSUC was created on July 17, 1797, in a hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, by ten lawyers, including the A.G. of Upper Canada.)

    The underlying strategy that manufacturers use, and which I used to create LAO LAW, is to study the work involved so as to create the necessary specializations to make that work, or any new special part, produce a profit. The target is constantly improving cost-efficiency. The legal profession doesn’t think that way. And individual law firms can’t solve the problem of “unaffordable legal services” even it they did think that way.
    The necessary solution involves: (1) specialization of every factor involved in production; and, (2) scaling-up the volume of production to be able to take advantage of the “economies of scale” involved in the engineering principle that says,”nothing is as effective at cutting costs as scaling-up.” I learned that the hard way because LAO didn’t give me money to hire experts. Nevertheless, in our 9th year of production, my staff was producing more than 5,000 legal opinions per year for lawyers who service legal aid cases. It is a popular service because it helps lawyers make money.
    But no law firm has either the necessary degree of specialization, nor the scaled-up volume of production to be able to bring about the necessary cost-efficiency. Even the biggest law firms can’t because: (1) they don’t produce 5,000 legal services per year, let alone 5,000 of any one legal service; and, (2) big law firms are composed of little law firms called “practice groups.” Also, the practice groups don’t want to share resources. Therefore, when I tried to establish the same legal research service and database at a big law firm, it failed. Even though everybody said it would be a very good idea, I couldn’t get them to give me all of their finished work-product to put into a common, well indexed database for all lawyers in the firm to search and use. But the legal opinion service I provided to legal aid lawyers had to be easily and quickly made popular, otherwise the volume of 5,000 per year would never have been achieved, the cost-saving would never have been generated, and I would be out of a job, along with my staff. Fear makes innovation a necessity, not a choice.

    Law Society benchers in all jurisdictions of Canada, don’t feel the necessary degree of pressure, therefore they haven’t tried to solve the unaffordable legal services problem. Instead, they will give it to the ABS’s (the alternative business structures proposals), as an easy way out from under the problem, even though the ABS proposals can’t solve it, and are not intended by their promoters to solve it. See:
    “What a Law Society Should Be–A Response to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Alternative Business Structures Discussion Paper of September 24, 2014,” at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1398484.

    So now LAO LAW has more than 35 years of experience successfully innovating to become the best legal research unit in Canada, and saving LAO a lot of money that otherwise would have had to be paid-out on lawyers’ accounts for legal research hours claimed. And so, in August 2013, by way of a large paper explaining all of this in more detail, I recommended to CanLII’s Board of Directors that they provide at cost, the same services that LAO LAW provides. Because they would be serving a national market, and in all fields of the practice of law, their cost-efficiency would be even greater than what LAO LAW can achieve. See this article: ”
    “Access to Justice – Canada’s Unaffordable Legal Services – CanLII as the Necessary Support Service” (posted on the SSRN at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2365818).
    I have received no response.
    Nor have I received any response from the many LSUC benchers to whom I sent a copy of the same paper, more than a year ago, even though they need some program to point to that is aimed at solving the problem. Instead, they have nothing with which to forestall government intervention.

    Also, I’ve posted several other “access to justice” articles I have written, available by way of a free .pdf download. Access them by way of my SSRN author’s page, at: http://ssrn.com/author=1398484 .
    And summaries of some of them, using my Slaw author’s page, at: http://www.slaw.ca/author/chasse/.

    They explain the necessary kinds of specialization involved in the LAO LAW service. The underlying strategy can create similar support services for all types of work that law firms cannot make profitable by themselves. Legal research is the largest one of them, which is why law students do most of the legal research work in law offices in Canada, and for judges in courts of appeal, and even for the Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada.
    That strategy of “cutting costs by cutting competence” can no longer be justified. The law is now too voluminous, complex, technology-based, and available from too many sources, to be left to law students. Good legal research is the basis of all legal advice services, and therefore should no longer be made dependent upon the least qualified member of the legal services industry. LAO LAW uses the opposite strategy–the highest degree of competence by using highly specialized lawyers, in a constantly evolving system of innovation of, staff, materials used, and principles of database management, plus, highly scaled-up volumes of production.

    So your NSRL’s project should become: (1) a service for the legal profession comparable to that of the family doctor who sends patients to all of the many sophisticated support services that make up the medical infrastructure of mutually interdependent medical services; and, (2) a duty counsel service to help SRL’s.
    Make an arrangement with LAO LAW to have access to their database of materials, and to get the help of LAO’s 77 legal clinics who provide poverty law services throughout Ontario. They are the biggest string of law offices in Canada. For example, lawyers in private practice who service legal aid clients, can download free, from LAO LAW’s website, 1,000 different memorandums, each dealing with a separate legal issue in criminal law. And there are comparable databases in family law, immigration law, etc. And, there are databases of pleadings, and several other support services for each area of law for which LAO provides legal aid certificates. All free to legal aid lawyers to download 24/7. Consider, that innovation occurred in the worst possible place in the legal profession. It didn’t happen in the place, having the greatest of resources, because the legal profession is not yet feeling sufficient pressure to make it happen. That is no excuse justifying LSUC’s neglect of its duties set out in s. 4.2 of Ontario’s Law Society Act.

    Therefore, if I were the A.G. of Ontario, LAO’s legal clinics + LAO LAW + legal services insurance, would be the foundation upon which I would make socialized law successful.
    So, do as I suggest, or do something of comparable result, otherwise you appear to be wanting the SRL problem to continue for self-interest, and only incidentally in the public interest.

    — Ken Chasse, member, LSUC, & LSBC, Toronto.

    January 18, 2015 at 8:39 am
  • sandra olson Reply

    mr chasse, I have an action against dna labs false reports, it is in bc. I have an expert written statement of fact of this. perhaps my lawyer could use some of this research. could you contact me.
    thank you
    Sandra olson
    bclands@telus.net

    January 19, 2015 at 4:48 pm
  • Larry Doucet Reply

    I was wrongfully convicted kicked out of my own house by the wrong action of our money hungry and corrupt Justice system and robbed of over 100,000$ and tortured of about two years by the wrong doing of others I’ll never again trust our corrupt Justice system what they done to me happens in Iraq and Afghanistan one of which is the the lies of the RCMP who control the press and media and only help the rich,I which they kick these members of the liers club and put honest police in our country

    February 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm
  • Larry Doucet Reply

    They only want to put on the media and press to make them look good what they do to the poor in not acceptable

    February 27, 2015 at 7:18 pm
  • Communication Challenges for Lawyers – or the Pull of Marketing Legal Services? | The National Self-Represented Litigants Project Reply

    […] thoughtful and reflective SRLs to have worked with NSRLP over the last three years, Derek Parry (see his story here), made the following astute observation in a talk to Windsor law students Bring a SRL to Law School […]

    May 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm

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