Arming clients with meaningful, specific, and plain language legal information is integral to solving Canada’s family law crisis.[1] This is because the system’s long wait times, court overflow, and high costs are partly due to the prevalence of ill-equipped self-represented litigants (“SRLs”).

SRLs often require extra aid from judges for relatively simple legal matters and in some cases, use the family court system where an alternate dispute resolution strategy would have been more suitable.

Overwhelming evidence suggests that providing SRLs with legal information empowers them to make more informed decisions and prevents them from misusing the courts.[3]

Legal aid offices (“LAOs”) are aware of this. They provide pamphlets and online courses to the public and frequently direct clients to other valuable sources of legal education like provincial legal information centres.

However, because legal aid triage officers are unable to provide legal advice themselves and because strict eligibility requirements prevent most of the public from meeting with a LAO lawyer or obtaining a certificate, there’s only so much that legal aid offices are equipped to do. Part of the problem is that those who work at legal information centres (like legal aid offices) are forced to toe the line between providing general legal information and offering actual legal advice.

Some efforts have been made to combat these issues. Legal Aid Ontario, for example, has introduced a Family Law Information Program that’s accessible to anyone with internet access regardless of his or her financial standing. This program is fairly comprehensive, but is not very integrative or client specific.

More can and should be done. Research suggests that accessible step-by-step instructions provided early, often, and at multiple entry points of one’s proceedings is necessary to meaningfully improve access to the family justice system.[4] This type of aid is still not available.

 

Miralaw, however, has developed a solution.

Miralaw provides legal information that is accurate, easy to understand, client specific, and accessible at all stages of one’s proceedings. Its applications could drastically improve Ontario Legal Aid’s Family Law Information Program, for example, by making it more integrative and tailored to each client’s specific needs. 

This would allow those who need it to receive plain language answers to many of their legal questions, to receive help with the processing of forms and applications, and to be directed to the dispute resolution avenues best suited to their situation.

These apps could be used at legal aid offices, at family law information centres, or made readily available online by the government. 

Further, Miralaw’s applications can mathematically predict the outcomes of certain legal matters based on client intake. With analytical tools like spousal and child support calculators, Miralaw arms the public with legal information and education, ensures that they’re engaging with the right legal material, and empowers them to make sound dispute resolution decisions.

Miralaw changes the way people interact with legal information and can help solve Canada’s family law crisis. To find out more, contact us.

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[1] Debroah Doherty, Promoting Access to Family Justice by Educating the Self-Representing Litigant, ed (2011).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.