Fee-for-service Online Education for Self-Represented Litigants (in Canada)

Canada_flag_map.svgI’m surprised more of this hasn’t emerged already in both the US and Canada: pay a fee, get an online tutorial on how to represent yourself in a particular legal case/forum/process.  From Canadian Lawyer:

“Human rights lawyer Amer Mushtaq is trying to streamline access to justice for self-representing litigants going through the Ontario small claims court system with an online course he has developed.

Individuals hoping to represent themselves in a dispute — whether they are filing or responding to a claim — can take the $199 online course prior to filing or attending trial in order to understand the complex process. The video guide is broken up into steps with PowerPoint slideshow presentation addressing key issues self-representing litigants tend to face.

After looking deeper into the issue last year, Mushtaq was surprised to learn that very little help was available online for the average individual.

‘I found really nothing. There is some information from the Ministry of Attorney General, which gives you some guidance about what to do in small claims court, but nothing concrete,’ he says.”

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There is, in fact, support already in place for…Ontario-ites? Ontarians?…people from Ontario, and Canadians elsewhere.  The National Self-Represented Litigants Project focuses squarely on easing access-to-justice for SRLs, and maintains a fairly robust resource library.  Nonetheless, I’d figured it was a matter of time before this large market for SRL support got more commoditized, especially if the offerings are very particular in terms of court, case type, and jurisdiction.

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Imported from Canada: New Report/Analyses on Serving Self-Represented Litigants

Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada

Slaw, an online legal publication in Canada, picks up on a new report out of Alberta: the Centre For Public Legal Education Alberta’s  “Special Report: Self-Represented Litigants”.  Included in the special report. From Slaw’s summary:

  • What Self– Represented Litigants (Actually) Want: “Countless reports, working groups, and studies have asked this question, and reached diverse and creative conclusions. However, these papers often share one critical failing: none of them actually ask SRLs what they think. Enter the Self-Represented Litigants Project (Dr. Julie Macfarlane, “The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants“, May 2013) Dr. Macfarlane’s insightful Report has a premise that is as ground-breaking as it is simple – if we want to know what SRLs want and need, we should ask them.”
  • Small Claims Court: A Venue Made for Self-Represented Litigants: “[V]oluntary, non-litigation alternatives…such as negotiation, mediation and arbitration, are much touted [because of the time and money that can go into litigating case pro se]. However, litigation provides one major advantage, which is to force the other side to deal with the issue. The other good news about litigation is that there is a consumer, or layperson, form of litigation, generally known as small claims procedure, where technicality, expense and time for the parties is reduced. This article describes that procedure in Alberta. The other provinces and territories have very similar procedures.”