Time for a National Database of Professionals Assisting SRLs: Affordable, Empowering, Entrepreneurial

NSRLP has started to create a National Database of Professionals Assisting SRLs. The goal is clear – SRLs need and want assistance, and a National Database could offer information on affordable assistance that provide at least a measure of access to justice for those who would wish to avail of them. But while a database is a simple idea, the path ahead for a National Database is challenging. There are many uncertainties and challenges, including logistical dilemmas over whom to include, [...]

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Access to Justice Down Under: Three Innovations to Consider

A lot is the same… As I approach the end of my month in Australia, I have found a lot of similarities in the challenges faced by people using the justice systems in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria – the two most populated states with the largest legal professions in Australia – to those familiar to us in North America. Including: Growing numbers of self-represented litigants in family and civil courts Limited systems for collecting data about SRLs, and their impact [...]

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A2J, Political Pressure and Federal Politics: The View from Australia

I’ve been in Sydney and Adelaide since the beginning of September, giving talks and workshops about the SRL research (like Canada and the US, Australia is facing an exponential rise in the numbers of those coming self-represented to the courts). Politically, it’s been a pretty exciting week for Australians. After weeks of intrigue, the ruling Liberal Party of Australia deposed their leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on Monday evening. Not that this was so surprising to Australians, who have seen four PMs [...]

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SRL Experience “the same” Both Sides of the Border: Preliminary Results from the US SRL Study

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver IAALS has shared the preliminary results of their study “Cases without Counsel”. The IAALS study replicates the methodology of the Canadian SRL research, but gathered data from counties in 4 US states – Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts and Tennessee. A reflection of the demographics of the counties studied, the US sample presently comprises a slightly larger low-income group and a slightly smaller mid/higher-income group than the [...]

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Getting A2J onto the Political Agenda in the Federal Election

On October 19, Canadians will go to the polls to vote for federal representatives. There will be struggles over critical issues including the funding of public services, tax reform, immigration and social integration, and of course, leadership values and qualities. Will we hear anything about Access to Justice? So far, the answer looks like no. Access to Justice – affordable resolution processes, defence of core rights, legal protection of the vulnerable, and access to effective representation – is nowhere to [...]

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We’re Back! Reflections on how the Conversation has Shifted

There’s nothing like a vacation to give a sense of perspective. NSRLP’s summer break provided the chance for an evaluation of how far we have been able to affect the national conversation about self-represented litigants (SRLs) – where that conversation has moved from, and where it has moved to. The first blog I wrote in this series – almost exactly three years ago on June 16, 2012 – was called “The Two Solitudes” (https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2012/06/16/the-two-solitudes/). The image was of two radically [...]

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5 Ways to Talk about A2J Over a Summer BBQ

For the last three months, NSRLP has been focusing on the theme of “communication” and its importance in making progress towards greater access to justice in Canada. If we cannot talk to one another, we cannot have the type of rich stakeholder discussion and debate that is necessary to begin to resolve such a complex problem (look back at our kick-off blog on “The Shut-Up Culture” at https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2015/04/07/the-shut-up-culture-why-we-need-to-speak-openly-boldly-respectfully-to-one-other-about-what-really-matters; and the conversation between one SRL and three members of the NSRLP [...]

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Incarcerating Self-Represented Litigants for Overzealous Advocacy

The question I am asking in this blog is a simple but shocking one. Should we be imprisoning self-represented litigants for objecting to and even resisting particular outcomes – in short, for being overzealous advocates? This is far more complex than a simple legal question. We know that the law of civil contempt allows for imprisonment where a court order is breached. The question posed here is a much harder one. When an individual advocates – non violently, but zealously [...]

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Welcoming Legal Aid Ontario’s New Funding – and Asking Some Important Questions

Last week’s announcement by Legal Aid Ontario of new funding of $154 million over four years (http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/news/newsarchive/1506-08_eligibilityexpansion.asp) was the biggest cause for celebration among A2J advocates in a long time. At a time of unprecedented numbers of self-represented litigants in family and civil court, every effort to widen the number of individuals who can be assisted with legal information, summary legal advice, and legal representation (via the certificate program) is welcome. Last week’s announcements also introduced important targeting of service [...]

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Lessons for Tarion from the SRL Phenomenon

It’s time to write about Tarion Tarion – the corporation responsible for Ontario government’s new home warranty program as well as the appointed regulator of the building industry – has been in the news for the last 6 months (see for example, http://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/2015/06/02/couple-fights-tarion-for-home-warranty-roseman.html). There have been complaints about slow and bureaucratic procedures that seem to favor builders both substantively and as a matter of practice (inevitably Tarion staff work repeatedly with industry representatives). I have held off blogging about Tarion until [...]

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