For the last several years the National Self Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) has been studying Self Represented Litigants (SRLs) in Canada to determine why the number of SRLs continues to climb year after year.
Since 2011, the project has surveyed a number of SRLs through focus-groups, one-on-one interviews, and online surveys to gauge trends in the psychographics and demographics of litigants, the types of cases being filed, and litigants’ previous experiences with lawsuits and lawyers.
The results of the 2014-2015 survey – Tracking the Continuing Trends of the Self Represented Litigant Phenomenon – showed that SRLs’ age, gender, and educational experience were fairly widespread. However it also showed that the vast majority of litigants were earning less than $30,000 a year.
The survey also found that fewer SRLs were appearing in family court than ever before, and, interestingly enough, 92% of the SRLs had dealt with a lawyer in the past on previous legal matters. In fact, 65% of the respondents had engaged a lawyer for their current case but let him/her go for a number of reasons.
As this trend continues to rise, the legal profession must take note and adapt accordingly. Is it time for lawyers to rethink the way they practice?