Experiences of the Self-Represented

By , May 23, 2013 8:00 am

by Mary Whisner

This post has been adapted from a post on the Trial Ad (and other) Notes blog.

It’s tough enough to handle litigation when you’re a lawyer, but it’s incredibly stressful and daunting when you don’t.

CBC’s Day Six has a 15-minute story on self-represented litigants (May 18, 2013). It begins with a moving interview of middle-class Vancouver woman who ran out of money for her lawyer about five months and $50,000 into her case. She’s well-spoken and well-educated (master’s degree) and was still overwhelmed.

Next the host interviews Julie Macfarlane, a law professor who conducted a study of unrepresented litigants in three provinces (BC, Alberta, Ontario). The report: Julie Macfarlane, The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants: Final Report (May 2013). One of the researchers on the report was a librarian who surveyed the court materials available to self-represented litigants.

Report Cover

I have just scrolled through the report quickly, but it looks very interesting. Canadians and the Canadian court system are similar enough to US folks and the US legal system that the report is very relevant to our access-to-justice issues.

Julie Macfarlane teaches law at the University of Windsor. Her faculty bio is here.

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