Sarah’s Story: The Personal and Social Impact of Self-Representation

Sarah’s Story: The Personal and Social Impact of Self-Representation

This month our focus at NSRLP is on Action Step # 9, Measuring the Social Impact of Self-Representation. We asked two of our newly minted NSRLP Research Assistants, Krysten Bortolotti and Erin Chesney, to dig in the database and create a composite story that contained the elements of “impact” that they found occurred most frequently in the accounts of SRLs. We asked Krysten and Erin to then create a Storyboard using the presentation program “Prezi”. The result is “Sarah’s Story”, a three minute multimedia presentation.

Sarah’s Story describes the ripple effects – on financial security, personal heath and wellbeing, family responsibilities and social life – of continuing “solo” in the family justice system after any original resources for a lawyer have been used up. It sets out a progression of consequences that we see in a depressingly large number of the stories in the NSRLP database. In the original SRL study, those SRLs who had completed their matter were asked about the outcome of their case – just as family, friends and colleagues would inevitably ask them “so did you win?” at the end of their case.  Many of them told us that by the time they reached the end of their case, the legal outcome was just one element – just as significant in terms of ongoing and lasting impact was the draining of their financial resources, the effect on their personal health, both physical and emotional (with many developing anxiety orders and depression), and the fracturing of their family and social relationships.

We are making this presentation available for anyone to use – at a conference, in a classroom, at a meeting or just as part of a conversation – where the subject of SRLs is being discussed. We hope that it will help to heighten awareness of the many impacts of self-representation. This is a price too high for our society, and we should talk about it. Watch Sarah’s Story.

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Comments (2)

  • sandra olson

    all true… now string it on for TWENTY ONE YEARS! watch the dis cin tag ration of my life and then the impact on my daughters. watch with horror how one can slide the slope of despair, and then have someone ask you what is wrong with you, you must be mentally ill. as some legal professionals do because I can no longer speak nicely or in the manner they expect. then call this Sandra s story. have the courts refuse to file your appeals, call you vexatious, order triple costs against you even though you have already been declared indigent. oh, and then, just for fun,,, watch how this impacts the child. my child, and the horror of all of this, just because I want what is right and honest for her and I. the courts do not hear, or care. and to the gentleman who referred to srl time as unpaid,,, this is the UNPAID time. being stripped of your rights your voice your survival and it feels a lot like being skinned alive. isolate you from everyone, because you certainly wouldn’t want anyone actually listening to you. now would you.

    November 19, 2014 at 11:15 pm
  • Sam

    It is so true. And very sad that Canada does not have any organization which supports middle class.
    I have talk with a lawyer, she said that in case of she needs one she would not be able to afford it.

    November 21, 2014 at 6:11 am

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