Public Legal Education
Many people go through lawsuits not knowing very much about the law, or how the legal system works. After all, you trust your lawyer to guide you through everything.
But what happens if you run out of money, and must go through the court system yourself?
If you understand even just the basics of how the court system works, your decisions will be that much more informed.
Litigation Help was created by Heather Hui-Litwin. She has been both a self-represented litigant, as well as a traditional client in a lawsuit before becoming a lawyer. She believes that all too often, people don’t understand enough about the legal system works to engage in it efficiently. Litigation Help is created to address the public’s gap in legal knowledge.
Access to Justice
“We have wonderful justice for corporations and for the wealthy. But the middle class and the poor may not be able to access our justice system.” – Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, University of Toronto conference, 2011.
If you are thinking of suing someone, or if you are being sued, you should retain a lawyer to represent you. However, when typical hourly rates are often in excess of $300 per hour, retaining a lawyer could be an unaffordable luxury!
The inability to afford representation means many plaintiffs must live with the wrong they have suffered. Defendants are forced to give up, even when they have a meritorious defence. For some, there is no option but to litigate on their own.
Even though it is a fundamental right to be self-represented, the reality is that the legal system is so complex that it can effectively preclude anyone from exercising this right, unless you have legal training.
Civil justice should be available to everyone, regardless of wealth. My goal is to improve access to justice for everyone, by promoting limited scope retainer service or unbundled practices to lawyers and litigants, as well as provide public education on litigation to everyone.
Unlike most lawyers, my legal training began as a client. My husband and I were parties in a lawsuit. We retained a lawyer initially.However, due to the mounting costs, we decided to represent ourselves. Although I was already a law student at that time, I found navigating through the legal system to be challenging.
I discovered quite early during practice that law school does not teach you enough to be a fully effective lawyer! As a result of this experience, I am determined to help others who are forced to represent themselves.
I’d like to thank a number of people, who have supported me in these projects. The very first person I’d like to mention is my friend, Blaine Horrocks. He has patiently listened to me talk about my lawsuit throughout the years. He is also the one who came up with the name “Litigation Help.” He gave me the much needed support to start my career in access to justice.
I’m also hugely grateful to the following individuals who have appeared as guests on videos as well participated in Toronto Public Library seminars: Samuel Michaels, John-Paul Boyd, Laura Tarcea, Eva Di Giammarino, Thomas Kurys, Dan Rosman, Justice Janis Criger, Helena Birt and Mick Hassell. Most of all, I am indebted to Heather Douglas, for her dedication and continuous support on Legalese Translator.
Finally, we want to thank you for your support. Keep us inspired by sending feedback to us, or subscribing and sharing our videos and this website! Together, we can make a positive difference!
Heather’s CV in Brief
1996 Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Toronto. Thesis “The determination of the molecular orientation in LB layers using polarized FTIR-ATR spectroscopy”
2011 Juris Doctor, Osgoode Hall Law School.
2012 Called to Ontario Bar
2018 Master of Laws, University of Toronto. Thesis “The Role of The Judge in Wrongful Convictions: R v Mullins-Johnson”
Click below to access (University of Toronto’s T Space)
Interview with Droit Autrement/Legal Alternatives (DALA) McGill: “From PhD to in-house Scientific Consultant to Legal Educator”. Lawfully Uncommon.2021.
“Litigation Help gives hope to unrepresented litigants”, December 2021. Legalwriter.net blog. By Julius Melnitzer