Monday, August 22, 2011

Dealing With Self-Represented Litigants

In the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly, John Schofield discusses the challenges lawyers face when the opposing party is a possibly vulnerable and angry self-represented litigant:
"Sooner or later, almost every lawyer faces a self-represented litigant (SRL). And the odds are increasing — not only in small claims court and family court (the traditional preserves of the SRL), but in Superior and Supreme Court cases. Precise statistics are hard to come by. Still, in a survey of lawyers attending the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Family Law Summit last June, Queen’s University law professor Nicholas Bala found that 80 per cent of the 167 respondents reported they were encountering SRLs more often. Caldwell [Vancouver lawyer Chelsea Caldwell] says she’s seeing SRL more at the Supreme Court level, too."
Caldwell delivered a paper last May on the subject to a conference on small claims proceedings organized by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • Canadian Judicial Council Statement on Self-Represented Litigants (December 17, 2006): "Self-represented litigants are often unaware of the workings of the justice system and can feel overwhelmed by all the rules of procedure. The set of principles proposed by the Council should guide judges, court administrators, members of the Bar, legal aid organizations in assisting self-represented ligitants understand how the justice system works."
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Canadian Courthouse Library Survey (May 6, 2007): "Leaders of the Courthouse and Law Society Libraries SIG [of the Canadian Association of law Libraries] unveiled the results of a survey regarding public access (...) 27.6% of libraries have developed resources to assist members of the public in finding legal information or legal advice consisting of prepared printed brochures and research guides. These materials included electronic sources, pathfinders, online forms and Internet sites. 34.5% of the libraries indicated they were involved in access to justice projects with other organizations: training sessions for public librarians and university students, moot court tournaments for high schools or newspaper article series on public legal education ..."
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Public Access to Legal Information (May 7, 2007): "At the 2007 conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries being held in Ottawa until Wednesday, there was a session today on 'The Ultimate End User: the Public's Access to Law Libraries and Legal Information'. There were 3 presentations dealing with how law libraries and public libraries can respond to the growing number of self-represented litigants, as well with the generalized growth in the appetite of the public for legal information. "
  • Role of Public Law Libraries (June 24, 2008): "The most recent issue of the AALL Spectrum features an article about what are called public law libraries which are law libraries that serve the general population, including self-represented litigants."
  • CALL 2009 Conference - Research Projects by Members (May 27, 2009): "At this year's session, 2 CALL members presented the results of their research projects. The first was from Kirsten Wurmann of the Legal Resource Centre in Edmonton who presented the results of her study on the role and impact of librarians in the history and development of public legal education practice in Canada. Her paper is entitled The Role and Impact of Librarians in the History and Development of Public Legal Education (PLE) in Canada. "
  • Materials from Austin, Texas Conference on Self-Represented Litigants (April 7, 2010): "The Self-Represented Litigation Network is an open and growing group of organizations and working groups dedicated to fulfilling the promise of a justice system that works for all, including those who cannot afford lawyers and who go to court on their own. The Network brings together a range of organizations including courts, and access to justice organizations in support of innovations in services for the self‐represented (...) Public libraries are critical access points to government institutions. As times get tougher, it becomes more and more important that people have libraries where they can find out how to protect their rights and navigate the complexities of our society. It also becomes more and more important that libraries can show how important and effective they are at meeting this need."
  • Judges Struggling to Deal With Increased Number of Self-Represented Litigants (November 1, 2010): "This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly includes the article Judges grapple with unrepresented litigants that quotes Judge François Rolland, chief justice of Quebec’s Superior Court, on the growing and disturbing trend towards self-represented litigants (...)"
  • British Columbia Supreme Court Info Packages for Self-Represented Litigants (June 11, 2011): "The information packages are aimed at self-represented litigants and others engaged in a variety of court-related applications and proceedings. Most of the information packages contain, where applicable, forms, instructions and some commentary, but vary widely—from non-adversarial matters (such as name changes, indigency applications, company restoration, and even adoptions), to appeals and judicial review issues (including separate packages for appeals generally, Masters’ orders, Legal Professions Act reviews, small claims, and petitions for judicial review), to post-judgment and execution issues (such as packages for costs, enforcement and garnishment issues, etc.), to civil litigation basics (chambers applications, responses, CPLs, financial statements, etc.)."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:03 pm


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