Speaking from one former self-rep to another……
Before I became a lawyer, I assumed that a self-represented litigant can simply come to court, tell her story to the judge, and all will go well from there. I was wrong. There is a lot more to presenting your case than just telling your story.
We are all familiar with traffic rules. They are in place so that everyone can use the roads safely. Similarly, there are rules that govern the manner in which one proceeds throughout litigation. While some rules are easy to understand, others are not.
If you are a litigant, it is worthwhile to educate yourself as to the rules that govern litigation. Understanding the basics of the court process helps you become better prepared for your case.
Fee: $25 for a half hour session
(This consultation is available during the week, and does not require 2 weeks notice.)
If you have a problem and need some general information to help you make a decision on who to talk to (lawyer, mediator, accountant) or where to go next (speciality clinics, community support centres, support groups), this session is for you.
Keep in mind that these sessions are for legal education/information only. I will not be applying the law to your case, or providing advice as to how you should proceed.
General legal education sessions can include the following topics. Before we meet, you can tell me which topic you’d like to learn about.
- Overview of all the steps in a lawsuit
- What are the general steps in a motion, and how motions are different from trials
- What does “discovery” mean and what to expect
- How to find the right lawyer or other forms of legal services for your case (besides using Google or the Law Society’s Referral Service)
- The general steps in a trial
- What are some of the most basic things you must know about presenting your case (motions are different from trials)
- What are the different types of legal documents, the purpose behind these documents
- What is the difference between a legal argument versus just any common sense argument
- How to do your own legal research on the freely available database CanLII (without referring to your own situation).
- What self-represented litigants should be wary of in particular
Legal Advice Consultations
Fee: $150/hour for a minimum of one hour session. More time can be booked according to your needs.
Do you have questions about court procedure in your particular matter? This consultation is for those who would like legal advice on their specific situation. I can help you understand court procedures, guide you in doing your own legal research based on your situation, or help you in composing your legal documents for court. I also offer pre-litigation consultations, where I I explain what out-of-court solutions there are for you.
(Please note that I can only assist in civil litigation matters, excluding family and estate law.)
Legal Education Sessions
(1) Overview of the Court Process (Ontario Superior Court only)
Duration: 2.5 – 3.0 hours
(For a tutorial on Small Claims procedure, see #7 below.)
In this tutorial, you will be introduced to a summary of the entire process, beginning with pleadings, the various procedures and deadlines that occur before trial, trial itself and enforcement, and a very brief introduction to what appeals involve.
You will learn the following:
-the fundamental concepts behind the “common law” system
-how to access court forms and rules of procedure
-samples of completed documents
-explanation of the concepts behind each step of procedure
-common risks of litigation, including costs consequences related to offers to settle
-what available legal service options there are for self-represented litigants, including limited scope or discrete task services
-alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and arbitration.
Duration: 2 hours
In most lawsuits, there will be court hearings called “motions” before trial occurs. A party may “bring a motion” to ask the court to force the other side to comply with a certain rule, such as the production of certain documents. Many self-represented litigants are blindsided by represented opponents because they do not realize what is involved in these procedures. In this session, I will explain motion procedures, and give examples of the most common motions that occur in lawsuits.
(3) Legal Research
Duration: 2 hours
This session will introduce you to the basics of legal research. You will be guided on how to use the free database CanLII, how to use “Boolean” operators to conduct a more efficient search. A brief discussion on the concept of “common law” will also be included. We will go through in detail how to read judge’s decisions, as well as how case law is applied in real cases. We will also go to the Toronto Reference library to access their litigation online resources, including Westlaw.
(4) Legal Writing: What are affidavits? What is a factum?
Duration: 2 hours
A litigant will often need to file written documents to the judge before a hearing. Many litigants do not understand what is required in these documents, from the basic format, to what relevant content should include. This session will introduce you to the basics of legal writing. Examples of good and bad writing will be provided.
This session does not include proof reading of documents for your litigation. For such services, a referral to a legal advice lawyer will be provided.