One of the most difficult tasks for any individual faced with a legal need is finding the right resources.
Just type your problem into Google and you’ll be faced with a barrage of legal services, websites, apps, directories, lawyers and more, all offering help for your particular problem. Wading through all that information can be daunting, take hours and hours, and to be honest, it could turn into a giant, time-consuming research project.
For starters, when you have a legal need or face a legal challenge, what legal resource do you need? Is it a website, app, clinic, government services, non-profit organizations, or a lawyer? Do you need free information from a government service or website? Do you need a self-service option online? Or do you need to go out and hire a lawyer?
Beyond the challenge of identifying the right type of resource for your situation, searching is made even more difficult because legal needs are usually difficult to quantify. It’s often hard to know whether a problem is serious enough to warrant seeking out a lawyer, or if it’s something you can handle on your own, maybe with the help of some online research.
For these reasons and more, a Google search alone is often not enough to track down the appropriate legal resources. That being said, with a bit of time and effort, and the right approach, it is possible to find what you need.
As a legal entrepreneur, I saw this issue of confusion around where to turn when legal needs surfaced as a major problem in access to justice, part of my reason for founding www.canadalegalhelp.com. As the website grew, and the www.canadalegalhelp.com database filled out, I came to realize that real help and solutions are out there, but it does require you to be systematic and methodical while searching. As my hunt for legal resources picked up, these 7 tips for succeeding became a guiding force.
1. Get Organized
When facing a legal problem, I recommend starting out by getting organized. This will help you clearly define your needs. To use an analogy, if we diagnose the problem correctly, we can prescribe the right treatment.
So, gather all relevant documents and write out a chronology of the events and developments that have occurred. With this done, the situation might become more clear, which will allow you to be as efficient and concise as possible when doing Google searches, submitting summaries for analysis, and making phone calls.
2. Define Your Keywords
Next, you’ll want to identify the key words and phrases you think are the best suited to helping you find what you need. First, choose keywords to describe the legal problem or need, and add the name or your province and/or city.. For example, you could search “house hidden defect Quebec general information” or “contract new business Ontario legal document templates”.
3. Refine Your Search
When going through these steps, it is important to be both patient and detail-oriented. Like most Google searches, it will often take several tries to find the specific information, government service, or law firm that is best suited to your needs.
Once you search using keywords or phrases related to your needs along with location-based keywords, you’ll start getting an idea of what’s available. From there, you can start to get more specific, adding keywords referring to specific types of resources, such as articles, videos, clinics, directories, or consultations. Once you select a resource that might be a fit for you, you can dive deeper looking into how that resource works and what the costs may be.
If you’re still not sure where to go, type in your keywords and location along with the word “information”. Be sure that all information you read is relevant for your province. Many legal education websites also contain links to government-sponsored and not-for-profit resources. Before turning to a service provider, it can be worthwhile to explore these resources as well.
4. Take Advantage of Government-Provided Resources
Several provinces have legal education websites, such as www.clicklaw.bc.ca in British Columbia,www.educaloi.qc.ca in Quebec, and www.cleo.on.ca in Ontario and all provinces offer legal aid services. A visit to these websites or a call to your province’s legal aid department can be a quick way to get guidance and direction for your situation without the high costs typically associated with an attorney.
5. Seek Out Free Help
Many lawyers and legal service providers offer either a free consultation, a free phone call, or a free online option to submit a question. Take advantage of these opportunities where appropriate. Make sure to be concise when explaining your situation, and efficient with your time and be clear about your situation and expectations. If you’ve expressed your need or issue clearly competent and organized, the chances are high that you will be able to quickly find helpful guidance or be referred to the right service or provide.
6. Follow Up on Referrals
It may take a few tries to find the appropriate government service or non-profit organization. Don’t give up if the first resource you try only gives you a referral to a different resource.
7. Don’t Settle
There are thousands of options out there for legal help, though they can sometimes be hard to find. Don’t quit your search on the first legal website you come across. Be patient and scope out all available resources before deciding how to proceed.
Legal problems are often inherently stressful and difficult. The fact that finding legal resources is often such an enormous challenge only makes matters worse. Fortunately, as technology improves, so do the options for finding real legal help. The internet has opened the door to thousands of legal resources, but a dedicated approach is still required to navigate them all effectively. Hopefully, as more progress is made and new technologies emerge, searching and finding the right resources will only become faster and easier!