Best Practices Guide from SRLN

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The Self Represented Litigation Network has released a report that can help anyone working to improve, or wanting to learn more about, the array of services, programs and policies that exist to assist litigants appearing at court without lawyers.  Titled Best Practices in Court-Based Programs for the Self Represented: Concepts, Attributes, and Issues for Exploration (Dec. 4, 2006, 44 pp pdf.), the document states that better services for pro se litigants can greatly enhance both access to justice and effective operation of the judicial system.  It then describes 41 Best Practices that “have been identified by the Self-Represented Litigation Network as likely to be effective and generally worthy of broad replication.”

winnersBUtton  The spotlighted practices are grouped into eight broad categories: 1) self-help centers and services; 2) forms, document assembly, and e-filing; 3) practices in the courtroom; 4) discretee services, pro bono and volunteer programs; 5) judicial ethics and education; 6) post-order practices; 7) court management and evaluation practices; and 8) jurisdiction-wide strategic practices. (via SelfHelpSupport.org)  

The report names each practice, fully describes the Concept, lists Suggested Attributes for a successful model, and outlines Issues for Exploration and Evaluation.  Although advising that “Each jurisdiction should consider its own experiences and needs in developing a strategy or program”, the Best Practices report notes that “the choice as to which innovations should receive the highest priority may best be driven by an analysis of the most urgent areas of need, and of which stakeholders are most ready to move forward.”  It then suggests that 

“As a strategic matter, the creation of self-help centers, of standardized forms, and the establishment of rules clarification and training for judges, court staff and attorneys are viewed as having early broad enabling impact.”

The SRLN Best Practices report offers clear and concise information, if you’re wondering what functions a Courthouse Concierge Station might perform (and how to this useful service even more effective); what elements are needed for a successful Self-Help Center or Website; the Attributes of “Simple, easy to use and self-help friendly forms and documents”; the types of training needed for judges and court staffs; or the changes that are required in ethics rules for the system to effectively and fairly serve the self-represented.  Many additional topics are covered, including Rules in Support of Form and Process Standardization, Volunteer Attorney Involvement in Self-help Centers, Law Library as Resource Center, Rules or Clarifications in Support of Discrete Services, and court Rule and Procedure Simplification.

Our advice: bookmark this excellent report. GuidedSupportN

And, see our post What Have They Done for Me Lately?

 

1 Comment

  1. shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » lawyers appreciate pro-se-friendly courts

    December 29, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

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    […] lawyers therefore must renounce action to foil self-help assistance (in a misguided attempt to preserve the financial interests of the legal profession), and instead must use individual and organized efforts to promote and create adequate, integrated self-help resources in every court (see, e.g., resources and strategies discussed here, here, and there) […]

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