Report of the Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project…some thoughts…

So the Law Society of Upper Canada, Pro Bono Law Ontario, the Law Foundation of Ontario, and Legal Aid Ontario teamed up to study the civil legal needs experienced by low and middle-income Ontarians. Their Report of the Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project was released yesterday. The gist of the report is that, with respect to low and middle-income Ontarians:

  • 1 in 3 had a non-criminal legal problem or issue in the past 3 years;
  • 1 in 10 had multiple legal problems in the past 3 years;
  • almost 4 in 10 of those people with legal problems in the past 3 years were still working to resolve that problem;
  • almost 70% were satisfied when they get assistance from private lawyers and other professionals;
  • people can’t find legal help because they don’t know where to look or because they perceive they won’t be able to afford it;
  • half were able to access free help or resolve their legal problems for less than $1,000 in legal service fees;
  • Middle-income Ontarians need legal help with Wills, Powers of Attorney, and real estate issues (e.g. residential leases);
  • Low-income Ontarians needed help with disability-related issues, social assistance, personal injury or employment issues;
  • 1 in 3 said they prefer to resolve their legal needs by themselves with legal advice, but not necessarily with the assistance of a legal professional;
  • Unbundled legal services was seen as an innovative way to serve clients (i.e. by breaking down legal services into smaller chunks and allowing the clients to do so of the work);
  • THERE WAS A NEED FOR INNOVATION (e.g. self-help centres, lawyer referral service, online technologies, etc.)

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