Services for the Self-Represented: Every State Needs a Strategy

By Richard Zorza, Self Represented Litigation NetworkIn recent years national access to justice leaders have come to realize that the access problem will never be solved unless we put in place a broad range of services for the self-represented.  In some courts 80 or 90% are self represented, and in some types of courts (such as family and housing) the national number is probably well over 50%.  There are never going to be the resources to pay for lawyers for all these people, particularly since a very significant number are middle income, but still not able to pay for a lawyer.Providing services such as information, online forms software, video help, etc., is critical for solving the access problem.  So is providing judges with the education that lets them create an environment in the courtroom in which litigants get the information before the judge that the judge needs to decide the case fairly.Every state needs a strategy to put such elements in place, to evaluate them, and to continually monitor the needs of the self-represented.Richard Zorza is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the coordinator of the Self Represented Litigation Network. Richard has worked for the past fifteen years on issues of access to justice, technology and legal ethics.