Until you’re confronted with a legal problem, you probably don’t pay too much attention to talk about access to justice. But legal issues are part of our everyday lives and we’re all likely to encounter them sooner or later. Starting a job, renting an apartment, paying bills, living common law or getting married, thinking about a will – these are all common events that affect our legal health.
Going to court is intimidating enough if you’re a witness, you’re involved in a family court case, or you’re accused of a crime. Imagine how bewildering it is if you don’t understand or speak English! Spoken-language court interpreters are available, in some cases without charge. How do you ask for an interpreter, and when do you have to pay for one?
Are you looking for information about a legal issue? Or do you advise people seeking legal information? If you’re looking online the sheer volume of information can seem overwhelming and stressful. Where should you go to find legal information? And what should you read first?
A legal consultation is like a good night’s sleep. You may not know if or when you’ll have one, but there’s no doubt having one will help you face what lies ahead. However, many people worry they can’t afford the cost of consulting a lawyer about a legal problem. There are low-cost legal resources available, but if you don’t know how to find them it could lead to even bigger legal problems.
Going to court can be a terrifying experience, especially if you’re presenting your case on your own, without a lawyer. Many self-represented litigants find that having a trusted friend or family member with them to provide emotional support, take notes, and organize documents can be a big help.