The traditional, full service, model of legal services isn’t working for self-reps. We’ve got a model that does.
For centuries the English system of courts with rules and lawyers and laws to be enforced has worked. It helped give us a civilized society with the intention of justice for all. And with a trained lawyer representing each party, everyone had a level playing field. But this doesn’t work well if one or both parties can’t afford a lawyer, and the traditional adversarial system really doesn’t work well at all for family law cases.
This wasn’t a problem until the last several years.
Recently the family courts have become swamped with people who either can’t afford, or don’t want, to pay a lawyer to provide traditional, full retainer, services. In Ontario, of the approximately 80,000 new family cases started each year, 64% are begun by someone without a lawyer – 74% in Toronto courts. And then there all those people who start off with lawyers but run out of money and end up representing themselves. There are estimates that up to 80% of the approximately 320,000 people in Ontario’s family courts at any given time who don’t have lawyers. That’s up to 256,000 new self-reps each year. That’s a lot of people. If they all lived together they’d be Ontario’s 9th largest city. That’s more people than the populations of Kingston and St. Catharines combined. And not much is being done to help them.
“Notwithstanding the improvements in the past few years, recent family law statistics suggest that the court process is still too slow, expensive, and complex.”
The Ryerson University Legal Innovation Zone’s
Family Reform Community Collaboration Report
Everyone in the family law system is concerned about the growth of self-reps, and what should be done. There’ve been lots of reports about this, and whining and complaining that not enough is being done, but there’ve been no practical solutions to the problem of getting self-reps access to services until The Family Law Coach.
The Family Law Coach concept of offering fixed fee, à la carte services, accessible from anywhere by internet and phone, is Canada’s first attempt at providing a solution. There will hopefully be others with other solutions over time. And we welcome them. Our Self-rep Providers Directory, listing others offering 3 Pillar Self-rep Services, is our way of encouraging a diversity of self-rep services.
So why are we here? To get useful services into the hands of self-reps in a way they can afford. That’s why.