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Newcomers to Canada have ready access to help with everyday legal issues

Why would an organization that regulates lawyers and paralegals hand out a guide to free legal information and services? Thomas G. Conway, head of the Law Society of Upper Canada, answers this and other questions.

Why did the Law Society produce the guide Handling Everyday Legal Problems?
“People's legal needs are changing. Thirty years ago, if you had a legal problem, you made an appointment with the lawyer in your neighbourhood. This is no longer the case. Now, people are more likely to search the internet than visit a law office.”

Why have things changed?
“Things have changed for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being that people want to be more informed and they want to have more input into managing their legal problems. They want to know their options before they contact a lawyer or paralegal.”

Is using the internet as a resource a problem?
“Not at all. There is a great deal of good legal information on the internet –  there is also a great deal of inaccurate information. The challenge is figuring out what information you can trust.”
Is that why the Law Society released its guide?

“Pointing people to reliable information is a large part of the reason. We also know that more Ontarians are handling legal problems on their own, either because they don't feel they need a legal professional or because they can't afford to pay someone. The Law Society exists to serve the public and we have an obligation to help people with their legal needs, in a way that is best for them.”

How will this guide help the public?
“First, it will help people understand if the issue they have is a legal problem. Sometimes you don’t realize you have a legal problem until it becomes much bigger and more difficult to resolve.

“Second, it will help people find useful and reliable legal information and connect with free or low-cost legal services. It will help people make good choices as they deal with their legal issue.”
What kind of information will they find?

“The guide provides brief descriptions and contact information for legal information sources and free and low-cost legal service providers in the province. For instance, there is information about Law Help Ontario, which offers a number of free services, such as brief legal advice in three court-based locations. Legal Aid Ontario also provides a number of services, including its online Family Law Information Program and access to lawyers through its Family Law Service Centres.”

Where can people find this guide?
“The guide was distributed for free across Ontario through a number of publications. It's also available on the Law Society website at lsuc.on.ca.”                             
                           
                                                                                                                                                                – News Canada

Posted: Jun 30, 2014

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