Tracking the Continuing Trends of the SRL Phenomenon: Data from the NSRLP, 2014-2015NSRLP
Despite closing the formal SRL National Study in January 2013, we continue to hear every day from SRLs all over Canada (and occasionally from other countries – the NSRLP website had visitors from 91 different countries in 2014). Many of these SRLs are as eager to share the story of their experiences as our original study respondents. After months of exchanging emails with some of these SRLs, we eventually realized that we had a data collection opportunity.
From March 2014, SRLs who contact us have been invited to complete an Intake Form. The information we ask them to share is obviously more limited than the 45-60 minute personal interviews conducted for the original 2013 Study – nonetheless, this enables us to continue to track the demographics of the SRL population and via a few open-ended questions, to get a sense of their common experiences.
“Tracking the Continuing Trends of the Self-Represented Litigants Phenomenon: Data from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, 2014-2015” released today provides an analysis of one year’s worth of intake data (March 2014-March 2015) from 69 SRL respondents. We shall continue to add to this data in the coming year, including making an effort to reconnect with those who contacted the NSRLP in the 12 months between the end of the original study and the commencement of the new intake procedure.
What is striking is how closely the results of this new data mirror those of the original 2013 Study. The gender, educational and socio-economic demographics are very similar to those we saw in the 2013 Study, as well as in other recent quantitative studies in the US, the UK and Australia. Put simply, SRLs are broadly representative of the Canadian population and include your neighbours, friends and colleagues. More than half begin with a lawyer but run out of money to continue to pay for legal services. Most SRLs do not have a positive experience and are frequently overwhelmed, stressed and feel unfairly treated by a justice system that is less welcoming than they had expected and hoped. However SRLs are highly resourceful in continuing to look for assistance wherever they can find it – whether pro bono services, duty counsel assistance, or relying on their own research using the World Wide Web (the most popular resource continues to be Can Lll, although some other sites receive positive feedback also).
This new Report (2015) was worked on by Windsor Law 2 student Erin Chesney, who carried out the original analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data, and drafted the findings. The Report was finalized by Sue Rice and Julie Macfarlane.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments about the 2015 Report.