Simon looking earnest in Preveza, Greece

Lawyer to the Self-Represented (Ontario)

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About My Online Research Services

I serve four markets for legal research:
  • lawyers
  • paralegals
  • corporations, both non-profit and business
  • self-represented persons
1. Lawyers

This is the traditional market for legal research: lawyers. Typically lawyers commission research into specific legal issues for fixed fees. This service is available here, in my subject areas.

2. Paralegals

Paralegals can use legal research just like lawyers, when they anticipate difficult legal issues arising in a case. You'll get good research, and over 20 years of experience as a lawyer - but don't expect my 'opinion' or legal advice on the issue involved, I'm not acting as your lawyer.

3. Corporations

I've had numerous clients over the years that want to 'know the law' for a business or policy proposal. My research services are well-suited to explaining aspects of the law to those who want to understand it for novel business ideas, non-profit policy goals or pretty much anything else interesting.

4. Self-Represented Persons

Self-representing clients are a relatively new market for legal research, brought about by the high number of litigants self-representing these days. They are persons near-and-dear to me, because it was they that kept my law practice going for ten years while I travelled the world, and I came to both respect and appreciate their varied skills.

But serving self-represented clients comes with challenges. The most basic is knowing the distinction between legal advice and legal research (paralegals and lawyers already know this). Basically, legal advice is the full-service that you get when you hire a lawyer to represent you in your matter. But legal research is a support service for someone else who is directly managing the case - like a lawyer, paralegal or the self-representing client.

The easiest way to know that you need legal advice (ie. a lawyer) is if you are inexperienced in legal proceedings (eg. courts or tribunals) and you find yourself needing legal 'information' or guidance from the start. Even if you only have one or two questions to start with, my experience has been that those initial questions are commonly misconceived and/or they will promptly lead to more questions, usually just by the process of thinking about the issue more thoroughly.

If this is you, I'm probably going to turn you down for research service until you talk to a lawyer about your case first. If, after that, you think you can handle the matter yourself, you are welcome to come back and we can talk about whether I can be useful. Many people self-representing start out by buying resources like legal textbooks to understand the law and legal procedures better. To supplement that, you may be able to use my legal research services to clarify key or important legal issues.

But there are limits to what I can do for you. For instance:
  • I cannot give you a legal opinion

  • I will insist on knowing the questions you are asking before you hire me (both to know if they are acceptable questions, and to judge fees accurately)

  • I will decline to assess the quality of evidence in your case (ie. I won't state conclusions as to whether your evidence will sustain the 'facts' that you want them to), rather I may insist on pure legal questions (although specific questions of evidence law are usually acceptable).
Essentially, what you'll get from me if you hire me for legal research are the researched results of what the legislation (ie. statutes and regulations) and judges (ie. the common law, or case law) say. With so many people self-representing these days, I feel that such people shouldn't be denied legal research services, but I am going to limit what I can and can't do for you in order to abide by the law governing the practice of law.

Fee Terms

All my fees are flat-rate for the work quoted, HST-free, prepaid (unless I make other arrangements, which I rarely do) and paid by Interac. Anyone who has an account with a major Canadian bank can make Interac payments. Most of my case law research is done in the Canlii databases.
Law Society Number #37308N / Website © Simon Shields 2005-2019