Launching NSRLP’s latest Guide: The McKenzie Friend

Launching NSRLP’s latest Guide: The McKenzie Friend

We are delighted to launch our latest SRL resource, written and researched by Judith DaSilva with Julie Macfarlane. At NSRLP we are convinced that adding support and assistance for SRLs, especially in the courtroom where many feel intimidated and anxious, is in the interests of everyone in the justice system.

A McKenzie Friend – a personal supporter who sits “upfront” and can take notes, or pass documents, but does not address the court or offer legal advice – can help SRLs to stay focused and calm during a hearing, and can debrief with them after. Many SRLs tell us that they find it difficult to accurately and fully recall what they were told by a judge because of courtroom nerves.

The new Guide – which includes a Worksheet with a series of questions for SRLs to work through in order to assess their needs, and then to identify a person best able to assist them (and least likely to raise the ire of the other side) – is available on our website for free downloads . We would like to strongly encourage not just SRLs but also agencies, paralegals and lawyers serving the primarily self-represented to take a look at this resource and consider making it available to clients.

“The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion” has already received kudos from Access to Justice leaders across Canada.

“Thoughtful advice for SRLs on help in court. Court is stressful for everyone, and especially for SRLs. Judith DaSilva’s approach makes sense.” Malcolm Mercer, Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada

“With their clear, straight-forward guide to choosing and presenting a courtroom companion, Judith DaSilva and Julie Macfarlane will help thousands of people to assess whether they need a McKenzie friend, how to choose a McKenzie friend, and how to explain their needs to judges.” David Merner, Executive Director, Dispute Resolution Office, British Columbia Ministry of Justice

Judges also can benefit from the presence of an effective SRL support person in the courtroom. Justice David Price of the Ontario Superior Court, speaking in his personal capacity, comments: “This is a helpful effort to assist self-represented litigants to recognize issues arising from a request to allow a support person to sit with them in the courtroom, to anticipate concerns that an opposing litigant, the litigant’s counsel, or the judge, may have in connection with the request, and to prepare the litigant to address those concerns.”

You can also read Judith’s guest blog that describes her process of developing the Guide here.

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