Courthouse Help Centers for Pro Se Litigants

From the Hamilton County Law Library Blog:

The Hamilton County Courthouse has a new tenant, one that will hopefully help level the playing field for Pro Se litigants attempting to navigate the legal system on their own.

The Help Center, located on the first floor of the Courthouse in room 113, is an amazing new resource for anyone with questions or who needs help with a legal topic. Staffed by a fully-licensed attorney and law students from UC, this center offers guidance and limited legal advice for any wishing to represent themselves or for those who cannot afford an attorney.

There are no salary caps or other restrictions on who can be seen. Currently, the Help Center focuses on small claims, evictions, garnishments and judgments and has many guides and cheat sheets about each topic. Staff and volunteers can help patrons understand and fill out forms, prepare for an upcoming court date, understand court processes and procedures and even give coaching on how to represent yourself.

Both “Self Help Centers” and “Law Libraries as Resource Centers” are listed in this 2008 Self-Represented Litigation Network report on Best Practices in Court-Based Programs for the Self-Represented, and this 2015 NCSC Trends report has an article that talks about law library-court collaborations. It would be interesting to know how many courts in the U.S. currently house Help Centers with law librarians on hand to help pro se litigants. I’ll look in those reports to get a general idea, and follow the trail from there.


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