Saturday, May 18, 2013

Experiences of the Self-Represented

It's tough enough to handle litigation when you're a lawyer, but it's incredibly stressful and daunting when you don't.

CBC's Day Six has a 15-minute story on self-represented litigants (May 18, 2013). It begins with a moving interview of middle-class Vancouver woman who ran out of money for her lawyer about five months and $50,000 into her case. She's well-spoken and well-educated (master's degree) and was still overwhelmed.

Next the host interviews Julie Macfarlane, a law professor who conducted a study of unrepresented litigants in three provinces (BC, Alberta, Ontario). The report: Julie Macfarlane, The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants: Final Report (May 2013).

I have just scrolled through the report quickly, but it looks very interesting. Canadians and the Canadian court system are similar enough to US folks and the US legal system that the report is very relevant to our access-to-justice issues.

 Julie Macfarlane teaches law at the University of Windsor. Her faculty bio is here .

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lawyers Who Defend Accused Terrorists

What's it like to defend a high-profile terrorism defendant? See: Ron Scherer, Lawyers who defend terror suspects have thankless task. Why do they do it?, Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2013. Tamar Rebecca Birckhead, To Defend a Terrorist: Reflections on Reid, Tsarnaev & How I Got from There to Here, Juvenile Justice Blog, May 3, 2013. Birckhead, now a professor at the University of North Carolina, represented Richard Reid, the so-called "shoe bomber," when she was a public defender.