New research explores the role of community workers who help people with legal problems
The Law Foundation of Ontario publishes report to help better understand trusted intermediaries and the ways in which they could be supported to help advance access to justice for their clients.
In 2016, the Law Foundation of Ontario selected a team to conduct research to help them better understand trusted intermediaries and the ways in which they could be supported to help advance access to justice for their clients.
The report shares the findings from a literature review, file review, focus groups, interviews, and a survey of more than 400 people, including more than 230 frontline workers in non-legal organizations. The report provides insights into what trusted intermediaries are doing and how comfortable they are doing it. The 231 frontline workers who took the time to respond to the survey indicated that most common activity is to provide referrals to legal service providers (93%) followed by providing basic information about legal rights and procedures (88%).
- Trusted intermediaries play an important role in helping people access justice and/or legal support.
- Trusted intermediaries build trusting relationships, offer much needed support, and “provide vital service with inspiring commitment”. They are eager to participate in training and receive supports so they can, in turn, help those who turn to them.
- Trusted intermediaries provide people with legal information, make referrals to legal services, help clients fill out forms, and accompany people to meeting with legal service providers. Community workers can’t give legal advice, but they can and do help people better understand the law and navigate the legal system.
- Legal clinics and other legal practitioners have formed productive partnerships with trusted intermediaries and support their work in a variety of ways. Nonetheless, trusted intermediaries often have trouble finding legal professionals to help them and their clients.
- More can be done to link community organizations and trusted intermediaries to legal service providers. Connections, partnerships, and collaboration are key to advancing access to justice.
Read the report:
Trusted Help: The role of community workers as trusted intermediaries who help people with legal problems