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Copyright Charles R. Dyer 2006 Serving Self-Represented Litigants Best Practices in Public Law Libraries from Across the Country.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright Charles R. Dyer 2006 Serving Self-Represented Litigants Best Practices in Public Law Libraries from Across the Country."— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright Charles R. Dyer 2006 Serving Self-Represented Litigants Best Practices in Public Law Libraries from Across the Country

2 Principles of Best Practices These practices should be effective in getting the self-represented litigant what he needs. They should be cost-efficient. Their products should be easy to use. You should avoid repetitive work. You should be working smarter, not harder.

3 Presumed Familiarity New York Unified Court System websites.

4 Reference Materials Research Guides and Checklists –Information is more complete than one gets from a verbal reference transaction. –Users can carry the information with them. Prepared forms –Keep heavily used forms readily available. –Custom forms can be made for high use local needs. –If you do them yourself, have them reviewed by your judges.

5 San Diego County Public Law Library (CA) Link to Research Guides page

6 San Diego County Public Law Library ng%20Pleadings%20at%20Home%20 WordPerfect%20and%20MS%20Word %2005.pdf ng%20Pleadings%20at%20Home%20 WordPerfect%20and%20MS%20Word %2005.pdf Link to a PDF document: Creating pleadings

7 King County Law Library (Seattle, WA) Research Guides page This site is being rebuilt, so screen capture remains

8 King County Law Library Research Guide for Winning the Lottery This site is being rebuilt, so screen capture remains

9 Clark County Law Library (Law Vegas, NV) Forms page mspage.htm mspage.htm

10 Clark County Law Library Pathfinder 12: Legal Forms in Nevada PDF /12%20Legal%20Forms%20In%20Neva da.pdf /12%20Legal%20Forms%20In%20Neva da.pdf

11 New Yorks Forms New York Court Help Forms Library at –Family law, name change –Fill in the blank PDF forms.

12 Classes for SRLs Librarian teachers Classes held –At the law library –At public libraries –At other venues Variety of topics –Legal research, computer use –Procedure, forms

13 San Diego County Public Law Library (CA) Classes page

14 San Diego County Public Law Library Description of the Law Made Public class madepublic madepublic

15 San Diego County Public Law Library Hidden page link to its Instructional Resources page.

16 Sacramento County Public Law Library (CA) List of classes ter/ClassListTable.htm ter/ClassListTable.htm

17 Sacramento County Public Law Library Link to the description for the Law and Motions class assDescriptions.htm#motion assDescriptions.htm#motion

18 Sacramento County Public Law Library Photo form the virtual tour showing the Training Center. Leave screen capture in, as virtual tour requires latest Internet Explorer and cookies.

19 Others with public classes The following public law libraries had classes for the public listed on their websites as of February 26, 2006: Arizona State Law Library (Phoenix) Los Angeles County Law Library (Los Angeles, CA) Douglas County Law Library (Lawrence, KS) Washoe County Law Library (Reno, NV) King County Law Library (Seattle, WA); and Wisconsin State Law Library and the Dane County Legal Resource Center (Madison, WI).

20 Setting up classes Time for preparation –Share your work with others Equipment, rooms, etc. –Start by borrowing –Good items for grants or special funding requests Expertise

21 Avoiding UPL Classes are taught using a pre-set fact pattern which is not that of an actual library user. Discussion is limited to general questions on the matters brought up in the class. Because of the presence of other students, specific questions can be referred to the reference desk or other agencies, as appropriate.

22 SRL-oriented websites Statewide websites created under cooperative efforts –Usually with grants and task forces. Distinctive features –Better usability and easy navigation. –Simple explanations. –Referrals to local law libraries. –Email and live reference (chat room style).

23 Marylands Peoples Law Library Home page http://www.peoples-

24 Maryland Peoples Law Library Family Law page http://www.peoples- 390000http://www.peoples- 390000

25 Maryland Peoples Law Library Link to the quiz on whether one should represent himself. http://www.peoples-

26 Maryland Peoples Law Library Using the same link, scroll down to the bottom of the quiz.

27 Law Help /NY Link to a PDF on whether to get a lawyer 7CBCBasicDivorce.pdf?stateabbrev=/N Y/ 7CBCBasicDivorce.pdf?stateabbrev=/N Y/ The screen capture is left in, as the site has changed. I could not find the page again.

28 Back to Maryland People Law Library Family Law page once again http://www.peoples- 390000http://www.peoples- 390000

29 Maryland Peoples Law Library Finding the solution page shown because of its visual ease. http://www.peoples-

30 Maryland Peoples Law Library Navigating your divorce page http://www.peoples- divorce/Navigating%20Your%20Divorce.useful%20websites.htmhttp://www.peoples- divorce/Navigating%20Your%20Divorce.useful%20websites.htm

31 California Public Law Library Home page

32 California Public Law Library Links to pages from self-help centers

33 California Public Law Library Ask Now button page 3.cfm?virt=CCCLL 3.cfm?virt=CCCLL

34 Online live reference Librarian and user communicate through a chat room window. The librarian takes control of the users PC and can point the user to specific websites in another window in response to reference questions. Librarians can use previously written scripts in order to send large amounts of information quickly.

35 Leave screen capture in because of arrow. Law Help Cal Button to Cal Pub Law Library

36 Question Point - 24/7 online reference services NY Supreme Court Criminal Law Library participates, but only at the email service level, not as live reference in an online chat room style. Questions from other libraries in Question Point are referred to it for handling as an email reference transaction.

37 Note: LawHelp/NY does some Public Access Law Libraries does some. licaccess.shtml. (This was an actual link on the original show, not a screen capture.) licaccess.shtml [Both NY sites have some readability issues.]

38 Partnering One recent trend is increased partnering between public law libraries and the courts or other legal services agencies. More than just referrals, these other agencies will place staff in the law libraries themselves. Sometimes they share funding with the library, too.

39 Nevada County Law Library (CA) The Superior Courts self-help center is located in the library. The attorney there will actually take SRLs into the stacks, just like a reference librarian.

40 Nevada County Law Library Leave screen capture in this version as the GIS portal requires Internet Explorer 4.0 as a browser.

41 Nevada County Law Library Link to Countys online building permit request system p.asp p.asp

42 Travis County Law Library (TX) Going one step further: Travis Countys self-help center is run by the library. Referrals are speeded up, in both directions. Expansions to the service are treated as regular library budget items.

43 Travis County Law Library Link to the Reference Attorney page munication/law_library/ref_attorney.asp munication/law_library/ref_attorney.asp

44 San Diego County Public Law Library They had a clinic run by the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program (a pro bono organization), 2001-2005. Replaced by a Law School SRL clinic, run by the University of San Diego School of Law. Also, specialty clinics are run by local bar associations.

45 San Diego County Public Law Library Link to the Free Legal Clinics page

46 Why use outside agencies for unbundled legal services Its useful to have the reference staff separated from the legal advice givers. Conflict of interest records must be maintained. Rigorous contract for partial services, typically under rules established by a willing state bar. Malpractice insurance.

47 Issues with Unbundled Legal Services Clinics Short term issues: Creating a good referral methodology. Maintaining volunteers. Training for the wide variety of legal issues. Long-term issues: Funding is often not permanent. The cooperating agency can change its priorities.

48 Alternatives to branch libraries Hennepin County Law Library (MN) –Resources in branch public libraries Kern County Law Library (CA) –Branch in community college San Diego County Public Law Library (CA) –Videoconferencing classes to public libraries

49 Public events that educate SRLs Local bar holds sets of substantive law classes (Peoples Law Schools) –Once a week for 4 – 6 weeks. –Different Topic each week. Local bar does Q & A for free –E.g., for Law Day. Public Lectures

50 Resources for Law Librarians Self-Help Support (NCSC) Self-Represented Litigation Network –Law Librarians Sub-Group of the Information, Marketing and Outreach Group AALL Legal Information Services to the Public SIS

51 Charles R. Dyer Consulting My website: My email:

52 This presentation and other materials are available at

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