Our experts recommend
One of the biggest challenges in the court system is the increasing number of self-represented litigants. As the number of self-represented litigants in civil cases continues to grow, courts are responding by improving access to justice and making courts more user-friendly. Innovations include:
- simplifying court forms,
- providing one-on-one assistance,
- developing guides, handbooks, and instructions on how to proceed,
- offering court-sponsored legal advice,
- developing court-based self-help centers,
- collaborating with libraries and legal services,
- and using Internet technologies to increase access.
This has not only empowered people to solve their own problems and improved the public’s trust and confidence in the courts, but has likewise benefited the courts through improved caseflow and increased quality of information presented to judges.
Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.
Many self-represented litigants are unable to go to the courthouse in person to conduct routine business. Many courts are now providing remote services, which benefit both litigants and court staff.
As our society becomes more dependent on mobile devices, the policy issues on allowing these devices into courtrooms become more complex.
American Bar Foundation. This report found that tenants facing eviction in New York City were able to get significantly better results under an innovative program that uses “court navigators,” who are not lawyers.
IAALS recently released two new reports focused on the experiences of self-represented litigants in the family court system. Cases Without Counsel: Research on Experiences of Self-Representation in U.S. Family Court which explores the issues from the litigants' perspective. Cases Without Counsel: Our Recommendations after Listening to the Litigants outlines recommendations for courts, legal service providers, and communities to best serve self-represented litigants in family cases.
The Center helps judges and courts advance access to civil justice, especially for poor and low-income individuals, by offering resources on 15 strategies and technical assistance. It works closely with the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators and other national court organizations to implement access-to-justice solutions.
This report looks at the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs.
Report to the Chief Judge and the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York. This annual report details continuing efforts to increase equal access to justice for the estimated 1.8 million New York litigants who must navigate the court system each year without the assistance of counsel.
On June 11, 2012 Connecticut's Chief Justice Rogers addressed the Connecticut Bar Association regarding the need for more services to assist self represented litigants. The speech contains factual information on the percentage of self represented litigants in specific case types in Connecticut and several other states.
This document is a listing of resources for implementation of access to justice recommendations made to the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators.
This report provides a review of court-offered solutions for self-represented litigants (SRLs), along with maturity models to guide the development of integrated solutions in courts nationwide.