Trends in Accessing Justice

Posted at Legal Practice Intelligence - 26 August 2015

Self-represented litigants

For potential litigants, two impediments to justice are lack of money and lack of knowledge. Lack of knowledge might even be better described as lack of skills. A layperson faced with the prospect of court proceedings may lack the skills to identify the legal issues, prepare a case and effectively advocate his or her position in court.

The two impediments go hand in hand. A litigant with financial resources can buy the needed knowledge and skills. But most people these days know how to read and write, know how to learn and if they are given a degree of guidance can do a lot of the "justice work" themselves.

How to access justice enters the public domain

More of the essential knowledge needed to navigate a court matter for a self-represented litigant is entering the public domain. The information is going to where the people are. And where are the people? YouTube of course.

The NSW Online Registry recently uploaded its seventeenth video “How to file a Notice of Motion to Pay by Instalments.” While these videos haven’t reached viral status, one of the more popular is “How to File a Statement of Claim Online” which has more than 3,500 views.

Perhaps this points to an increasing role for lawyers as consultants, strategists and coaches to those who want to take a blended self-represented approach to their litigation matters.

A new lawyerless path

In the United States a new service is in pre-launch phase which seems to cut out the lawyer altogether. Self-represented litigants help each other. This  type of service is so newly conceived it doesn’t even have an agreed name for what it is. It seems to combine elements of crowdsourcing, self help and support groups. It is no surprise that technology plays a central role.

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Between 25th and 27th August 2015, 600 Community Law advocates are convening  in Melbourne for the National Community Legal Centres Conference.

The theme for this year’s Conference is: “Unless…” Storytelling in CLCs work, reasons, roles and risks. Community Legal Centres hear and respond to the stories of their clients and communities every day. Increasingly, centres have been effectively sharing those stories, using their power for advocacy, change and community development.

Highlights include:

What telling stories can do…

Dr Dylan Coleman, Lecturer in Yaitya Purruna Indigenous Health Unit, a Kokath (Gugatha) Aboriginal/Greek woman speaking on centering Aboriginal voices on country, past, present and future, educates, strengthens and liberates.

Rachel Ball, Director of Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, speaking on the topic “when I tell my story I’m in charge; ethical and effective storytelling in advocacy”

Craig Hughes-Cashmore, Executive Director, Survivors and Mates Support Network.

Family Violence: How a powerful story can open doors to change

Rosie Batty, Family Violence Advocate and 2015 Australian of the Year.

Dr Chris Atmore, Senior Policy Adviser at the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria).

Antoinette Braybrook, National Convenor, National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum.

Heidi Guldbaek, National Policy Coordinator, Women’s Legal Services Australia.

Ideologies of Human Rights

Tim Wilson, Human Rights Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission.

Andrew Giles MP, Member for Scullion, Victoria.

Emily Howie, Director of Advocacy and Research, Human Rights Law Centre.

On the final day the Closing Address is by Senator The Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General.

As well as the plenary sessions with keynote speakers, there are also 42 interactive workshop sessions.

Open the link to view: the agenda at a glance


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