June 9, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic strain for many. The Self-Represented Litigants Network (SRLN) claims that 60% of cases today involve at least one pro se party in matters such as family, housing, and consumer litigation. And we know that post-pandemic these are precisely the kind of cases that are expected to surge in terms of the number of cases filed, as discussed in the March 2021 Trending Topics piece. Several courts, either as part of their ongoing efforts to assist the self-represented or specific to post-pandemic conditions, have made efforts to address these needs, including:
- Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles recently announced a pilot program with Bar Associations to help SRLs finalize dissolution and parentage actions. This program will allow parents and couples with pending divorce and paternity cases to receive help from volunteer attorneys to finalize necessary paperwork to get final judgments. In addition, to help SRLs this program will also help the court to resolve these cases according to Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor.
- Ask a Lawyer- Larimer Family Law Day 2021, Larimer County Access to Justice Committee, and the 8th Judicial District Court Resource Center (Colorado) are offering classes and other services including “ask-a-lawyer” sessions for people who register in advance.
- The Kane County Law Library & Self-Help Legal Center (Illinois) assists low-income individuals with their legal needs. A call-in service has been set up to offer contactless service during the pandemic. Attorneys from the Kane County Bar Association volunteer their time to answer questions by phone.
State court law libraries are helping SRLs navigate their courts:
- The Southwest Georgia Legal Self-Help Center offers customers access to a wealth of legal resources, but also provides many forms needed for family law and other topics.
- Florida's Eighth Circuit transformed their rarely-used law library into a self-help center. Since the center opened, the number of in-person and phone call requests has nearly tripled. On average, staff are helping between 30-40 self-represented litigants a day.
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has many resources on what other state courts are doing on its Justice for All webpage.
For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.