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