Recently, CBC The National reported a story about Denice Barrie, a practicing lawyer who practices in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Barrie has written a book about self represented litigation: “Journey to Justice: A Practical Guide to Effectively Representing Yourself in Court”
In this day and age, lawyers and legal assistance can easily exceed the household budget of most middle class Canadians. The simplest case can climb well beyond $10,000 in legal fees. Denice Barrie saw the problem and decided to do something about it. She added a “self help” aspect to her regular legal practice. She now coaches and does workshops to help people who are involved in legal proceedings.
She took her work a step further with a new private practice helping people represent themselves. There’s no retainer, and people pay the flat rate whenever they need help on a pay-as-you-go basis. She notes she can do a lot for people during a single visit.
“I’ve drafted entire applications for people in an hour,” she says.
Barrie breaks her services down into six steps starting with simply collecting the many materials people have for their matters to finally preparing the case and presenting it in court. In many ways, the service is about understanding the court process and getting people organized, she notes.
“For the most part, people are happy with the service they get,” says Barrie, who notes access to justice in family law is a big issue in British Columbia given the lack of legal aid assistance.
Barrie has clearly developed a passion for the idea of addressing access to justice through assisted self-representation and notes it fits well with the notion of giving clients more control over their cases. She even wants to start giving workshops on self-representation next year.
“I’m jammed this is the most exciting thing that I’ve done as a lawyer. I really think this kind of service is the way of the future.”
Canadian Lawyer Magazine, Glenn Kauth
CBC The National, Dec. 31, 2015