SRL Awareness Day, October 4th 2017: Working Together for ChangeNSRLP
Self-Represented Litigants Awareness Day, an NSRLP initiative first launched 3 years ago, is approaching fast. On October 4th, Windsor Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, the U of Ottawa Law School, Queens Law School, and Western Law will open their doors to local SRLs. SRL guests will sit in on law school classes, tour the law library, and participate in speaker panels dedicated to raising awareness about self-representation, sharing their experiences with both future lawyers and current practitioners.
What is special about SRL Awareness Day? Elizabeth Roberts is an SRL who participated in this event (then called Bring a SRL to Law School Day) at Osgoode last year.
Elizabeth’s feedback highlights the crucial platform for dialogue that this event facilitates, by offering a much-needed opportunity for SRLs to talk about their experiences and the challenges of “access to justice” to those who are (or will soon be) justice system” insiders”. it exposes law students, who will be the next generation of lawyers, to the SRL experience. Elizabeth said: “I shared my experience alongside a fellow SRL to a packed room of 40 young law students. The energy in the room was inspiring. Eyes widened and jaws dropped as my colleague and I shared our experiences”. What mattered was the opportunity to speak and be heard, and the subsequent student questions allowed Elizabeth and her SRL colleague to debunk many myths surrounding self-representation.
SRL Awareness Day offers a crucial glimpse of reality for future lawyers by highlighting the crisis of self-representation, and encourages them to work for change. Elizabeth says: “The countless questions posed by the law students made me appreciate that many lawyers really do start out caring about justice. I want to reinforce that early mindset of the youth among the “old guard” too. Many lawyers truly want to make a difference in this world, to make the world a kinder, more just place, and understanding the reality of self-representation is an important part of that. I believe change will come through dialogue.”
This hope is shared by the NSRLP, as we continue to work to expand the reach of SRL Awareness Day into more law schools across Canada.
Margarita Dvorkina, NSRLP Research Assistant