SRL for a DayNSRLP
Reflecting Law Week 2014’s theme of “Access to Justice: What Does it Mean to You?” the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (a project of the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor) hosted “SRL (Self-Represented Litigant) For a Day” on Wednesday, April 16th at two downtown Toronto courthouses.
SRL for a Day was a shadowing event in which seven prominent members of the legal community experienced what it is like to be a “SRL For a Day”. The participants were guided around the courthouse by SRL “partners” at either 311 Jarvis, or 393 University, two downtown Toronto courthouses with a very high volume of SRLs. They were able to speak with a number of SRLs and to observe first-hand the challenges facing those attempting to represent themselves in family or civil court.
Robert Lapper, CEO, Law Society of Upper Canada, says:
“This was an excellent opportunity to learn firsthand how the justice system can be overwhelming for far too many. While I was impressed by the services and support the courts and other organizations are providing to self-represented litigants, it is clear there is still work to be done. It is also clear that everyone in the justice sector has a role to play, which is one of the reasons why the Law Society established The Action Group on Access to Justice – or TAG – to bring together key stakeholders to build solutions. We can take what we have learned today back to TAG and work collaboratively with our justice partners toward new ways to help self-represented litigants.”
The project enabled all parties to see the justice system from multiple perspectives, enabled honest and open dialogue and created a real connection among the various stakeholders via their shared commitment of access to justice.
Dr. Julie Macfarlane, Director of the National-Self-Represented Litigants Project, says:
“While we may walk different paths in our day-to-day lives, our common goal of access to justice brought those paths together yesterday.”
At the end of the morning’s tour and discussions, one of the participating SRLs commented with obvious pleasure and relief “I finally feel heard”. Dr. Macfarlane comments, “This is a sentiment we have heard many times at NSRLP when we facilitate dialogue between SRLs and justice system professionals. It is so important – and especially symbolic, we thought, in Law Week – for the legal profession to demonstrate that it is listening to stakeholders, and their enthusiastic participation in this event brings that message to the public.”
Check out the feature on the event at Legal Feeds Blog.