Cases Without Counsel: Our Recommendations After Listening to the Litigants

This report offers recommendations to improve access to justice for self-represented litigants in family courts. The recommendations are based on a qualitative empirical research study discussed in a companion report- researchers spoke to self-represented litigants, judges, and court staff in four American jurisdictions.

The report recommends overall a coordinated response to better meet the needs of self-represented litigants. The researchers found that "system stakeholders must accept the onus of shared responsibility for helping self-represented litigants through the process".

Recommendations report includes the various stakeholder recommendations alongside materials and resources for those interested in learning more or implementing various components in their respective jurisdictions. Fundamentally, the report suggests a change in the conversation on self-representation. Several specific recommendations are offered to court communities, legal communities, and the broader community to improve access to justice for self-represented litigants.

Some of the recommendations relevant to public legal education and information providers are:

  • increase the availability of targeted self-help resources
  • explore innovative ways of delivering self-help resources
  • help make litigants aware of existing resources
  • provide guidance to court staff on providing legal information to litigants
  • work with community groups to expand knowledge about legal help resources