paralegal Amri Murray has always felt an affinity for the underdog.
I just want to help normal people who are struggling with everyday legal problems,
she tells AdvocateDaily.com.
But unlike many who tout their passion for access-to-justice
issues, Murray, principal at AJ Murray Legal Services, is not afraid to put her
money where her mouth is, as she proved when she opened her own legal practice.
After a number of years in the Ottawa office of one of
Canada’s largest law firms, she found herself "yearning to reach out to those caught
up" in a few too many David and Goliath contests.
I felt this constant urge to use my talents in
other ways that could greater benefit the public. So one day, I made a conscious
decision to just quit. No job to go to, no benefits, no guaranteed income. Without a
I took a leap , says Murray, who has never
Murray actually considered qualifying as a lawyer in Ontario
as she holds an LLB from a university in the U.K., but opted for the less costly and
time-consuming process of paralegal accreditation.
From an access-to-justice point of view, I'm
very satisfied serving Ontarians in this capacity,” she says. “I’m happy knowing
that I’m providing services to people who might not necessarily be able to afford a
helping to alleviate some of the stress on our court system.
Murray operates a wide-ranging practice touching on such areas
as human rights complaints, landlord and tenant matters, small claims court matters
and summary criminal offences.
Murray says the flexibility that comes with running her own
practice allows her to charge clients mainly on a flat-fee basis, as opposed to by
the hour. She also embraces unbundled services, breaking down matters into their
component parts, so that self-represented litigants can get professional help from a
trained professional for parts of their case.
If they can’t afford to pay for me to represent
them at trial, I can do the preparation and walk them through what they need to do
to act for themselves, so they’re not losing a winnable case simply because they
the process , she says.“My aim is to make things
simple for people, keep it laid back and make them feel comfortable navigating their
way through our legal system.
In addition to running her own practice, Murray also tutors
paralegal candidates who are preparing for licensing by the Law Society of Ontario
and is an active member of the County of Carleton Law Association, where she
assists with their professional development offering to paralegals.