January 13, 2009


Legal rights and remedies are the lines in the sand meant to prevent people from hurting each other. However, as anyone who has tried to retrieve a damage deposit from an unwilling landlord, reverse mistaken charges on a cell phone bill or enforce child support from a former spouse knows, your legal rights are only as strong as your ability to enforce them. To those outside the legal system, the forms, procedures, evidence and court motions necessary to accomplish even the most basic task seem daunting to the point of impenetrability.

Since graduating from law school in 2005, advising and representing pro bono clients has been the most exciting and meaningful part of my practice. Though the problems facing my pro bono clients have differed, their common theme is the disparity between the rights the average person in Canada is promised by law and the rights that person is able to enforce. While there is never a perfect symmetry between the existence of a right and its enforceability, at some point, if the barriers to enjoying a right are insurmountable for all but a minority of the population, can we legitimately say that right exists at all?

Legal aid covers painfully few of the legal predicaments which can threaten the people and things we value most; our families, our homes, our jobs and our freedom. The good news is that more lawyers than ever are volunteering to assist low income litigants with their legal problems, and more than ever, there are free online legal tools which can be harnessed to help you understand and enforce your legal rights and remedies.

This blog does not provide legal advice, nor can we provide legal assistance to individuals. However, it is my hope that social media can be used to raise awareness about poverty law issues, provide resources for low income litigants and their lawyers, and share some best practices from lawyers working in the poverty law trenches.

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I would love to hear your views on this post so please leave a comment below. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide any legal advice through these comments. If you need legal advice, please contact one of the pro bono resources listed on the right side of the Rights & Remedies blog.