The provinceis close to a crisis shortage of family lawyers, says the head of Legal Aid Manitoba.

Fewer than 80 lawyers are willing to work on divorce cases, less than half of the roster normally employed byLegal Aid.

The shortage means people seeking a divorce can face long waits for a court date, Legal Aid head Gerry McNeillytold CBC News.

"It takes us sometimes 10 or 12 calls to the private bar to find one lawyer who may take that case… so we'll plead with the lawyers," he said.

"There are no young lawyers coming out of law school, especially in Manitoba, wanting to do what I call social-type law.It's not sexy. It doesn't pay as much as corporate law."

The shortage isresulting ina growing number of people acting as their ownlawyers— an approach not recommended by Winnipeg family lawyer Lawrence Pinsky.

"It's a dangerous sort of gambit to play, both for the self-represented party and for their former spouse," he said."There's a whole raft of problems that can come about when that happens."

People who represent themselves are less likely to win the custody or support arrangements they want, he said, and in some cases, the judge could refuse to grant a divorce.