If you still think that SRLs are excited to be trying out as “lawyers”, watch this new VLOGNSRLP
The most common misunderstanding that we encounter when we speak about the 2013 Research Study results is that people are representing themselves in court for reasons including: they believe that they can do as good a job as a lawyer; they are enjoying the challenge of self-representation; or even, this is their chance to get even with the other side by directly confronting them.
The 2013 Research Study – as well as other studies and investigations in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia – shows clearly that the primary motivation for self-representation is a lack of financial resources to afford a lawyer, and/or the result of heavy personal debt and previous expenditure on legal services.
Put simply, those who cannot afford a lawyer cannot even start with one – and those who begin with legal representation often run out of funds and willingness to keep paying (ten, twenty or even fifty thousand dollars later).
Many myths have grown up around the reasons for the staggering level of self-representation in our courts (more than half of those coming to family court, for example). One pervasive myth is that these individuals all “hate lawyers”. Certainly some of those who have paid large amounts to a lawyer and still find themselves representing themselves have complaints about legal services. However our 2013 study showed that previous bad experiences with a lawyer – before this case – did not correlate with a decision to self-represent in this case. In other words, “choosing” (if it could be called a choice) to represent oneself is the result of present circumstances primary among which is money, and not an ideological hatred of lawyers.
This short video sets out the evidence for the reality that the primary obstacle to access to justice and legal representation in Canada is money. It deconstructs the “affordability puzzle”, explaining the complex elements of contemporary consumer decisions over value-for-money and self-help. It also features two SRLs speaking about their own experiences of self-representation.