Review of “Virtual Legal Help Services” by the Justice Education Society on the BC Small Claims Court and Supreme Court Websites

This report is an evaluation of a B.C. project created to deliver "virtual legal help services" by providing legal information and help via the Small Claims Court and Supreme Court websites. The project aims to help self-represented litigants in these courts improve their ability to work through court processes through three levels of "triage":

  • a fully automated guided pathway system combining video-based assistance and interactive questions to lead users to the information they need
  • live chat and email support by law students, who have access to a knowledge base of questions and answers to help them give people correct information
  • for more complex enquiries, a referral to a lawyer who replies to queries by email and gives legal information

The author of the evaluation found that this approach to delivering legal information was dynamic and engaging, and resulted in helping people from their own points of view. The chat and email levels also allowed people to get more specific information if needed. Bounce rates and drop-off rates were low, suggesting that users found information that was useful to them. An exit survey showed that approximately 85 per cent of respondents said that the help they got gave them greater confidence in dealing with their legal problems.