Windsor Law To Offer For-Credit SRL Coaching CourseNSRLP
This Fall, Windsor Law will offer the first ever for-credit SRL Conflict Coaching class in a North American law school, pairing Windsor Law students with SRLs via a clinic setting. This is a continuation of our work to develop a “coaching” model for SRLs, here focusing on the types of partnerships that can be provided by trained and supervised law students.
Acting Dean Myra Tawfik says: “This is the first and only course of its kind that law students can attend for credit and we are grateful to our colleague, Julie Macfarlane, for putting theory into practice. Providing our students with the tools and skills to act as coaches to self-represented litigants will, hopefully, influence these future lawyers to advocate for meaningful changes to the way in which legal services are currently delivered.”
Law students will provide their SRL “clients” with procedural information and guidance, help with form completion, preparation for events such as case conferences and case management hearings, and mediation. Our earlier experience with law students offering coaching – in a program with Pro Bono Students Canada managed by Windsor Law student Mackenzie Falk, an earlier pilot of a credit class, as well as individual volunteer coaches supervised by NSRLP – is that the most important thing that law student coaches can offer is the sense that someone is there to listen and provide emotional support. As student Shawna Labadie wrote in the NSRLP blog about her coaching experience: “(A)s a SRL coach, my most valuable role is allowing the SRL to know that in this swirling twirling mess of professionals and courts and statutes and conflict, there is at least one person who is completely on the same page.” (Read Shawna’s blog post here.)
SRLs who have worked with law students attest to the value of the assistance and support they received. This feedback from a SRL coaching client is typical: “[His] listening skills and quick insight relieved my stress, anxiety and the feeling of being so alone within the court system. He kept me more focused, on what I need to do. … I had no idea of where to start. I am grateful for this coaching process.”
The course instructor will be Windsor family lawyer Georgette Makhoul, of Hogarth, Hermiston & Severs LLP. Georgette previously supervised students in the NSRLP/PBSC coaching program. Georgette is excited about her new role. “At the height of the self-represented litigant phenomenon, we need multiple solutions. Conflict coaching is one such solution and evidences Windsor Law’s focus on Access to Justice.”