Studying law, if nothing else, makes you acutely aware of just how much help self-represented litigants would need to equal the playing field within the system. While the legal profession continues to evolve to improve meaningful access to justice, the one thing lawyers on all sides of the table can agree on is there is yet much work to be done.

But beyond the platitudes of good intentions, determining what can – practically – be done is an even tougher question to answer.

Our legal research team was fortunate enough to look at one key way of bridging the legal knowledge gap: free access information, tiered for simplicity and moderated for accuracy.

While there is no one easy solution, when it comes to legal information, people want two things: real choice and reliable customization.

Using telecom providers as a comparator for self-selected information pathways and iterative content analysis, our team has begun framing tools to give the public direct access to information resources to not only empower themselves to recognize “injurious experiences”, but on the steps needed to take action.

Presenting our findings at the University of Ottawa UROP Symposium last month was only the beginning.  Professors Marina Pavlović and Mary Cavanagh continue to formalize a critically modern understanding of legal information seeking practices. The research team continues to refine the design of free public service tools that will ultimately be shared and tailored by region and area of practice.

It has already been a highlight of my legal training to be part of this important work.

This post was first published in April 2016 on Kate’s Linkedin page.

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