Waymark Law

Providing Coaching and Support to Self-Represented Litigants. Guiding You to Justice®

If you are involved (or thinking about getting involved) in a family law or other civil proceeding, the lawyers at WAYMARK LAW can help you help yourself.

Waymarklaw.ca client talks about representing herself in court

This Self-Represented Litigant had 10 days to prepare for a trial that lasted 16 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia with an experienced lawyer on the other side. She managed to save her house, and her dignity, in the process.

This Self-Represented Litigant had 10 days to prepare for a trial that lasted 16 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia with an experienced lawyer on the o...

On Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23, Waymark will be holding its 2-day intensive workshop for people facing the justice system without a lawyer. This year, it's called "Spring 2017 BOOTCAMP" because that's really what it is: Arming people with information to survive in the trenches of the justice system. Only this year, participants get to practice some of the skills they need in our new, interactive workshop format. The cost is $199 (less than what most lawyers charge/hour!) and includes a copy of "Journey to Justice", the popular and user-friendly guidebook written for Self-Represented Litigants. Register by e-mailing [email protected] or call 1-844-waymark.

[03/25/17]   SPRING 2017
APRIL 22 & 23, 2017
INCLUDES COPY OF the GUIDEBOOK, “Journey to Justice”
E-MAIL [email protected]

[05/26/16]   Looking forward to hosting my first 'How to Make a Good Case in Court' workshops in Nelson on June 3 and 4th!

I was at a very special party last Saturday evening, wonderful not only because of the good food and lively company present, but because it was a celebration of the unique justice more likely possible when people represent themselves.
It all started last September, when Erin and Mia, women I then knew only casually, asked to meet with me about their court case. In rough shape myself from a heart-crushing breakup, I hesitated to take on coaching anyone through a complicated proceeding. That I did has become one of my best decisions. In the months that followed (seven, to be exact) I learned from them not only how dynamic the concept of justice can be but also, had my belief affirmed that committed partners, supported by loving community, can triumph over problems which would test the metal of a saint.
Six years earlier, my clients (and now dear friends) had bought a property in Nanaimo, a house intended to be both their workplace and home. Having relied on statements made by the vendors (both verbally and in writing) about what good shape the place was in, after taking possession of it, they were joined the next morning by legions of moisture ants which swarmed the bedroom downstairs, were flooded the first time one shower was used and found that flooring had been laid over wet carpet. The problems just went on. Designated structurally unsound, Erin sued.
From the moment the trial began, Erin and Mia met with tactics designed to get rid of their case as soon as possible. Day after day I watched them go into that courtroom, steeling themselves to face senior counsel who used every strategic advantage he could muster in an attempt to shut them down. And day after day both left exhausted but undaunted, ready to go home and prepare for whatever he could throw at them during the next round in court.
As it turns out, their nemesis lawyer was an expensive one, and after 20 days in court, the opposition ran out of money to pay him. They informed the judge that having spent $100,000.00 on their lawyer, they too would now be proceeding on their own. The Settlement Hearing which they had rejected while represented by counsel then became an opportunity. It lasted three hours, for most of that a stalemate.
What happened next was a moment of profound justice: In it, Erin’s heart broke open. Her compassion extended to the people sitting beside her who she had pursued tenaciously for just a little compensation. She insisted they settle this matter right then and there because after all, it was really about the house and not about anyone being “bad”. Without their lawyer, everyone got to be people, not a “position” in a case. A settlement which would allow Erin and Mia to pay some bills and let everyone involved get on with their lives was reached.
But here’s what I really want to say: Erin and Mia’s success goes far broader and deeper than being court room champions. It goes to holding to truth over tactics, demonstrating honour in the face of cruelty and ultimately, finding grace under fire.
I may be the one dressed up like a celebrity in the photo (taken on party night), but by refusing to let go of justice as they defined it, Erin and Mia were the real stars.


Waymark Law - Providing Coaching and Support to Self-Represented Litigants.


I was honoured recently to be part of a 19-mintue documentary on the subject of Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) which aired on CBC’s The National. My part of it was filmed over three days last June and my clients and I waited patiently to see what award-winning producer Diane Grant did with the footage that was shot.
“The New Litigants” was compelling in that it showed over and over again the hardships various litigants had suffered facing the justice system on their own. One tearful woman displayed a board-room sized table covered in documents she had collected attempting to obtain child support for 10 years (without success), another had become so discouraged she had attempted suicide. Kevin Hope lost a small claims court application on a “technicality” (?), then, overwhelmed by the stress of preparing for an appeal of a related matter, lost his wife to an unknown illness. The Alberta lawyer interviewed refers to the process as “misery” for SRLs and esteemed Professor Julie McFarlane concludes that SRLs are “powerless”
I disagree.
Since 2007, I have been providing coaching and support to SRLs, none of whom have attempted suicide, died or otherwise dissolved into mental disrepair in the course of litigation. Not all of them won their case, not surprising in an adversarial system where someone always loses, or at least loses more than the other litigant. And many (like Caroline Wilson, a coached SRL who also appears in the documentary) do very, very well.
Although all would agree that representing yourself is time-consuming and stressful, the testimonials volunteered by my clients (see www.waymarklaw.ca) bear witness to two emergent themes: A sense of control over their case not possible when a lawyer is in charge and a feeling of empowerment as a result of their work searching for justice.
I am grateful to Diane for bringing the matter of self-representation into the public eye and for including me as part of it. Although I wish more time and attention had been paid to the work that is being done to assist SRLs (especially mine!), people need to know that the growing number of litigants without lawyers signal a paradigm shift in a system which can no longer accommodate its purpose: Justice.
Maybe this was the best way to get that message out.


[12/25/15]   The New Litigants
On CBC News The National
New Year’s Eve, Thursday, December 31, 2015
6:00/8:00/9:00/11:00 pm PST
Channel 3 (Nanaimo & Gabriola)

On the last day of the old year, a new way of practicing law
will be featured as part of The New Litigants.

Last June, a CBC TV crew under the direction of award-winning (and former Fifth Estate) executive producer Diane Grant spent three days working with the Waymark Team in both Nanaimo and on Gabriola.

As well as filming me both alone and with Waymark clients, their experience as coached Self-Represented Litigants were recorded. Some time was also spent showing the final edits being made to Journey to Justice: A Practical Guide to Representing Yourself in Court just before it was published.

Although it’s hard to know how much of this footage will make it into the 19-minute documentary being shown (it includes interviews with others from Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta) I believe the Waymark Model incorporating the principles of Assisted Self-Representation will be presented as a viable new option for those facing the justice system without a lawyer.

I remember little about what I said but “Way of the future” comes to mind!

The timing is awkward: Who wants to sit around the TV on New Year’s Eve?! If you miss it, we will be posting a link to the show so that you can have a look whenever you like.

To all those who have helped make Waymark grow this year (including Diane and Doug from the CBC) many, many thanks.

Happy New Year everyone!

[11/03/15]   I just returned from a Mental Health Review Panel, my client a 20-year-old diagnosed with schizophrenia who has been detained on extended leave under the Mental Health Act. I met with him and his Mom last week and we knew we were going to lose, but all knew it was important to proceed. This young man knows he has a mental health problem but won’t call it schizophrenia: His psychiatrist a fairly young male entitled by his culture, his profession and the power psychiatrists have over their patients, insistent on how critical it was my client call it that – “no insight”. I picked apart lots of his case and at one point asked “Isn’t it true that paranoids have enemies too” (precursor to asking if he was aware that my client had been bullied in school, and had a good reason to be suspicious of piers), chuckled a little when I asked because it’s an expression I’ve been using irreverently for years, and he became incensed – asked me what was funny, I explained I was laughing at myself, he went on to reprimand me for laughing at a serious proceeding, instructed me to stop and be professional AND THEN THE WOLF CAME OUT – I looked right into his beautiful, misogynist eyes and said “YOU WILL NOT TELL ME WHEN I CAN AND CAN’T LAUGH AT MYSELF!” The Chair shut us both down. I wonder how many women/patients I stood up for in that fierce moment, so glad I am of this animal's spirit.

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