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 in the following Q & A:
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.” The guide is available on the Law Society website at lsuc.on.ca