Trusted Help: The role of community workers as trusted intermediaries who help people with legal problems

This research project provides an overview of the role of community workers in Ontario in helping clients with legal problems. The research was commissioned by the Law Foundation of Ontario to help them learn how to better support community workers working in this role.

The research resulted in two reports:

  • Part 1: Key findings and recommendations (14 pages)
  • Part 2: Detailed research findings (108 pages)

The research shows that trusted intermediaries such as community workers play a key role in helping people find legal supports and access justice. Some of the key findings from the report:

  • The trusted intermediary role is a key component of access to justice, and the value of this role is well documented.
  • There is a "grey zone" between legal information and legal advice.
  • Community workers help people with legal problems in many ways, and need support to act as trusted intermediaries.
  • There is value in training community workers to act as trusted intermediaries who can help people with legal problems.
  • In supporting community workers' needs, connections, partnerships, and collaboration are key.

The research methodology included:

  • a comprehensive literature review
  • interviews with key informants from the community sector
  • several focus groups
  • file reviews of existing and past grants given by the Foundation to community agencies
  • presentations at three conferences to generate dialogue