Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Law

Libraries may be experiencing more and more patrons requesting legal information to help them prepare for their court case. The June 2008 issue of the Canadian Bar Association's National magazine features an article titled "A Nightmare in Family Court" which discusses the issue of people who choose to represent themselves in family court matters. A section titled "Do-it-yourself law" states:

“There is a not insignificant group that simply doesn’t want to have a lawyer represent them and choose to make their own case,” says Robyn Elliott, a partner with MacDonald Elliott Legal Services in Halifax and chair of the CBA’s National Family Law Section. “These people feel very comfortable getting legal information from the Internet, including websites such as that run by the Department of Justice.” Elliott says that “individuals today generally feel more empowered and have more ability to do research. A surprising number of people arriving at my office already have researched and printed out the tables for child support.”

The article points out that approximately 60% of access and custody cases at the Ontario Court of Justice are started by people without a lawyer. However, this does not mention whether these people were able to use some brief legal advice from a service such as family duty counsel, pro bono free clinics or, in some provinces, a legal advice phone service such as BC's LawLine.

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