Access to Justice: Lawyer Referral, Self-Represented Litigants, Courthouse Self-Help, and more

Thinking about legal self help, access to justice, unbundled legal services?

Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog has all kinds of intriguing posts and links, e.g.

1) “Lawyer Referral Services Are the Key Gateway to Unbundled Services and California Leads the Way,” 10/16/12.

2) “Time for a National Center on Mobile Access to Justice,” posted 11/3/12

3) “Court Simplification Working Paper from SRLN,” 10/30/12

4) “What Happens When a Federal Court Pays Attention to the Self-Represented — the Central District of California Bankruptcy Court Is A Model for Us All,” 10/18/12

You can also link directly to the  Self Represented Litigation Network (SRLN), another organization for legal service providers. They work with courts, legal aid service providers, public law librarians, and many others on Access to Justice initiatives.

Oregon State Bar (OSB) Legal Links and Finding (free & low cost) Legal Help

The Oregon State Bar (OSB) has a Legallinks TV and video program that covers a wide variety of legal topics and issues. Episodes air on cable channels across Oregon and are also available by streaming video.
Recent programs have been on traffic law, guns in Oregon, child support, and finding legal help.  You can find links to the resources at the OSB LegalLinks website announcement for the program.

What to do when friends and family ask for legal advice?

Gallagher Blog links us to this article:

Counsel Over Cocktails? What to do when friends and family ask for legal advice,” by Trent M. Latta

(You will also find this article at the WSBA website: “Foreign Concept: Explore working abroad before giving up on a legal career,” by Arundel Pritchett)

How to Find Legal Information and Lawyers in the United States

Do you need to find a lawyer in another state? Do you need to find the laws of another state?

Think about it. If you’re looking for reliable legal information, a law library is one good place to begin, online or on the phone or in person.

I posted previously about other state’s law libraries:

State and County Law Libraries and Legal Information to the People

If you’re looking for legal information about a state’s laws or a state’s lawyers, why not go to that state’s law libraries?

For example, if you need to find a lawyer licensed and in good standing in another state and want to know if that state has a referral service, you are a mere web search away from finding that information. However, if you use an online referral service, how do you know if the lawyer on that referral service is licensed and in good standing?

Back in 2009, I posted this: Hiring a Lawyer: Clients and Lawyer Fees (and the related Are you a licensed Oregon attorney?” is a Yes or No Question) and included a link to this excellent guide: A Compilation of State Lawyer Licensing Databases, by Andrew Zimmerman and Trevor Rosen.

You can see why visiting the website or even phoning a state’s law library can save you no small amount of time and trouble.

Legal Notices and Service by Publication in Oregon

Attorneys know about legal notices, service by publication, or other publication requirements, but what about us normal people?! What are we to do?

Here is a little guidance, but I also recommend you ask the judge (if it was a judge who told you to publish a legal notice) or consult an attorney. You want to get this right! It’s not cheap to publish a legal notice and it’s even more expensive to get it wrong – because you have to do it all over again.

Legal notices may also called Legal Ads (not to be confused with Legal Aids!). I wrote a blog post last May about Legal Notice by Publication, but the question pops up now and again, and again, and again.

And recently, I found this, Public Notice Ads dot com while reading Inter Alia’s useful and fun Internet Legal Research Weekly service.

Paralegals are not Lawyers, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

From the Washington County (Oregon) Law Librarian:

Hot on the heels of yet another law library patron asking me to refer them to a paralegal instead of a lawyer (and we never, ever refer anyone to paralegals (aghhhh) or to specific lawyers – just lawyer referral services) and my posting the other day about Liability for Lawyer Referrals, I read this decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals, Wythe v. Harrell (docket number A133382).

Here’s an excerpt from the OJD Media Release, dated December 3, 2008, but the case itself is worth reading (and it’s only 4 pages):

Richard Wythe, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Bruce Harrell, Defendant-Respondent. Edmonds, P. J.

Plaintiff brought this negligence claim against defendant, an attorney, alleging that defendant committed malpractice by referring him to a paralegal to prepare marriage dissolution documents. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment, on the ground that the undisputed evidence demonstrated that plaintiff had no interest in having defendant represent him in the dissolution case.

Held: The trial court focused too narrowly on defendant’s evidence and did not give plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences that could be drawn from the averments in his declaration. Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the record presented genuine issues of material fact as to what advice plaintiff was given regarding the use of a paralegal and whether plaintiff relied on that advice. Reversed and remanded.” (link to OJD Media Releases)

Liability for Lawyer Referrals in Oregon

Law librarians never make referrals to individual lawyers. Never. Never. Never. But, others can and do. Lawyers do and can, friends can and do. (And the best bartenders often have the best recommendations – they hear it ALL – but you still have to check the attorney’s bona fides!) The Oregon State Bar (OSB) Referral and Information Service can and does make referrals to individual attorneys.

The latest (Vol. XXV, No. 4, October 2008) issue of the newsletter from the Estate Planning and Administration section of the Oregon State Bar (OSB) has the following article:

Liability for Referrals to Other Lawyers,” by Tim McNeil, of Davis Pagnano & McNeil, with a discussion of the tort of negligent referral, joint venture/join liability, the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct, and how to limit liability.

(The useful newsletters from OSB Sections are not well-indexed so I try to highlight some of their articles when they land on my desk/top. Only past issues are online for some of these newsletters (and others have their current issues online), but you can contact your nearest law school or county law library (see sidebar for links) and ask to see a copy for those in print only.)