Research Network

Connecting the justice, community and academic sectors around legal research and evaluation related to access to justice.

The Research Network connects the justice, community and academic sectors to enable knowledge sharing and encourage collaboration among those working on legal research and evaluation related to access to justice issues.

We do this by holding events throughout the year showcasing exciting international and domestic access to justice and legal need developments. Learn about these developments and meet and connect with colleagues working in this space.

Upcoming events

Self-represented litigants: challenges and solutions for a wicked problem

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) are a common feature of family justice systems across many jurisdictions. However, their presence is typically viewed as problematic. By virtue of their lay status, SRLs often disrupt the otherwise-accepted practices and customs of the legal process, creating additional work for legal professionals and court staff and placing significant pressure on family courts. 

Diminishing availability of free legal advice and early intervention measures in family law can exacerbate this problem, as many may find themselves with no option but to self-represent. These individuals may turn to the family court as a last resort, only to find themselves regarded as a burden to the justice system. 

This presentation examines how the SRL phenomenon can serve as a key signifier of the health of family justice systems, by illuminating why and how people find themselves self-representing in family courts, and how this affects their quality of experience and outcomes. It also considers the challenges and solutions to these problems, including how SRLs are likely to have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Wednesday, 31 August 2022


9:30am – 11:00am AEST


Online - a Zoom webinar link will be sent before the event

Register for the event

Our Speaker 

Dr Jessica Mant
Dr Jessica Mant is a Lecturer in Law at Monash University and an empirical researcher specialising in access to justice, legal aid and family law. Her upcoming book, Litigants in Person and the Family Justice System (Hart Publishing, scheduled December 2022) examines access to justice for unrepresented parties in private family law cases. 

Dr Mant will draw lessons and insights for the Australian context based on complementary work from other jurisdictions as well as her empirical research on self-representing litigants and experiences of legal aid lawyers in England and Wales.

Discussion panel

Dr Hugh McDonald
Principal Researcher, Victoria Law Foundation

Bridget McAloon
Acting Manager, Research and Evaluation, Victoria Legal Aid

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Previous events

Findings from the Justice for All report
Real Life Research in Partnership
Identifying and responding to need
Legal Services from Nonlawyers (Human and Digital)
The cost and value of access to justice - and access to justice 2.0
Integrated paths to justice in times of financial crisis
Triage and client centred services – what can we learn from practice?