Meet Cindy. ‘Cindy’ came to Canada in the winter of 2014 with her husband ‘Adrian’ and eight-year old daughter ‘Kat’. Finding employment was a struggle, as they had no Canadian work experience, but Cindy managed to find retail work while her husband went back to school to re-qualify as an engineer. Cindy’s manager was controlling and aggressive, frequently calling her names and yelling at her for seemingly trivial issues. Cindy knew she wasn’t in an ideal situation, but as a new immigrant to Canada, was too afraid of losing her job to report her manager to HR. Eight months later Cindy was dismissed from her position. She wanted to speak to an employment lawyer about her rights but had no idea where to turn.
Let’ back up and talk statistics. ~250,000 immigrants arrive in Canada every year – an astounding number. The challenges they face are many, and just like everyone else, they often require legal advice. Unfortunately, there are significant informational asymmetries that make it hard for them to get the advice they need, when they need it.
Is there really a problem here? I can’t tell you how many people have told me that this problem doesn’t exist. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “If I need legal advice, I’ll find it through my network” I’d be rich. I wonder how many people have actually had to test their belief with an issue of a time-sensitive, confidential nature. The fact that 76% of adults actually turn online at some point during their search for legal services tells me that its not many of them.
That being said, legal justice should not just be for the well-connected. Everyone should be able to find the information they need to make informed choices.
-How do we make sure immigrants get access to the legal services they need, when they need them?
-How do we overcome language barriers, cultural beliefs and a newcomer’s fear of speaking up?
A trusted community that crosses ethnic and geographical boundaries is the answer.
Technology as an enabler. The good news is that technology today is enabling these kinds of networks and communities to exist in a virtual capacity. For Cindy and her family the answer came too late, but luckily for the rest of us, there is now a solution for others who find themselves in Cindy’s shoes.
Curious and want to know more? Check out what we’re doing at Kabuk to fix this today.
Kabuk connects consumers with the legal providers they need, when they need them, and enables them to request desired appointments online. Our platform is designed to streamline the legal discovery process, putting needed information right at the fingertips of consumers, and helping them to make more informed decisions. For legal providers, we help increase your online presence and improve your customer acquisition efforts. Check us out at kabuklaw.com and follow us at @KabukLaw.