Legal Research is Easy is still one of my favorite blogs. (And I can only dream about working as a law librarian in a state with so many official court forms, practice materials, and self-help resources. Sigh.)
The blog author has fun writing the blog, is smart, funny, profane and profound, doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and is brutally honest about what self-representation is all about and what public law librarians can do – and can’t do. And he cares. When a big heart meets a tough cookie, good things can happen. (And he doesn’t even hint at the amount of dedication and work (and money management) that is required to keep his legal research skills fresh or to create and maintain a law library with the breadth and quality of legal research materials needed to provide this level of service. Easy indeed! Not!)
Try it out: Legal Research is Easy. You will learn from it, whether you’re a librarian or a self-represented litigant – or if you think you know what public law librarians and public law libraries do, but in fact have barely a clue.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has an excellent Library Resources website for librarians who manage their library’s programming, websites, and research and reference services.
The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) is offering training on Oregon’s new sexual assault protection order and civil remedies for sexual assault survivors.*
Dec. 3, 2014: 4 to 5:45 at the Washington County Law Library (Hillsboro, Oregon)
“The VRLC Portland office launched the Legal Assistance to Rape Survivors Project (LARS) to provide free civil legal services to victims of rape and sexual assault in Multnomah and Washington counties. The pro bono project provides direct legal services to survivors in the areas of privacy, safety, immigration, education, employment, housing, and public benefits. Since the launch of the project in April 2013, VRLC has provided free legal services to over 100 victims of rape and sexual assault.
Attorneys interested in volunteering for the project are welcome to attend an orientation training on Wednesday December 3, from 4–5:45pm at the Washington County Law Library (111 NE Lincoln St Ste 250-L, Hillsboro OR 97124-3036). Staff attorneys Emily Brown Sitnick and Stacy Hankin will talk about the pro bono project, as well as provide an overview of Oregon’s new SAPO and the civil legal remedies available for survivors. For more information, email Emily Brown Sitnick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*CLE accreditation will be requested”
Our favorite and first-stop legal self-help website is Oregon Law Help.
If you need legal information and referrals on domestic violence, custody, child support, landlord-tenant, foreclosure, bankruptcy, taxes, wages and hours, employment discrimination, public benefits, immigration and workplace safety, elder law, estate planning, disability law, special education, or related topics, make Oregon Law Help one of your first stops on the Internet.
Your next stops might be 211 Info, your public library, and your public law library. And there’s more! But we’ll save those for another blog post.
A lot of “law & tech” endeavors often widen the gap between the legal haves and have-nots (think “digital dead end“), but this Law Decoded project (in progress) shows real promise, in addition to having a high cool factor, which never hurts. And even if it stalls, the intention, to make the law truly readable and “accessible” to all, should never be forgotten or lost in that legal-tech forest where you find a plethora of fancier A2J endeavors.
“Discover the Code of Virginia: THE LAWS OF VIRGINIA, FOR NON-LAWYERS.
Virginia Decoded provides the Code of Virginia on one friendly website. Inline definitions, cross-references, bulk downloads, a modern API, and all of the niceties of modern website design. It’s like the expensive software lawyers use, but free and wonderful….” [Link to Virginia Decoded.]
LAW LIBRARIES AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE, A Report of the American Association of Law Libraries, Special Committee on Access to Justice, July 2014
“AALL’s new white paper, Law Libraries and Access to Justice: A Report of the American Association of Law Libraries Special Committee on Access to Justice, is now available on AALLNET. The white paper is the work of AALL’s 2013-14 Access to Justice Special Committee, chaired by Sara Galligan, and explores how all types of law libraries – including private; state, court, and county; and academic – contribute to the ATJ movement.
As AALL Past President Steven P. Anderson noted in his introduction, “As the principal providers of legal information, law libraries are an indispensable part of the services that can be provided to those with legal needs. Law libraries make “The Law” available, and law librarians serve as guides to finding the most relevant legal information.” The white paper explains the myriad ways law libraries can contribute to the administration of an effective ATJ system and successfully work with others on the front lines of ATJ.” [Link to a PDF of the full Report.]
The 2014 edition of Oregon Statutory Time Limitations is available on BarBooks.
Oregon lawyers have access through the bar association and others through the county law libraries that subscribe to BarBooks.
(In the past one could purchase a print copy of this book. We don’t know yet if this one will be available in print or digital format for purchase and use outside of BarBooks.)
Project Nanny Van: a legal service design
“Project Nanny Van is an excellent new example of creative legal service design…this mobile van that [goes] to locations where nannies might be congregating, and provides them with resources about their legal rights — as well as other resources to empower them.”
See more Open Law Lab ideas.
From the ABA Foundation: “Part of access to justice gap is that Americans don’t know when to seek legal help, says study,” Aug 8, 2014, by James Podgers:
Link to report: ACCESSING JUSTICE IN THE CONTEMPORARY USA: FINDINGS FROM THE COMMUNITY NEEDS AND SERVICES STUDY
“Executive Summary …
Typically, people handled these situations on their own. For only about a fifth (22%) of situations did they seek assistance from a third party outside their immediate social network, such as a lawyer, social worker, police officer, city agency, religious leader or elected official. When people who did not seek any assistance from third parties outside their social circles were asked if cost was one barrier to doing so, they reported that concerns about cost were a factor in 17% of cases. A more important reason that people do not seek assistance with these situations, in particular assistance from lawyers or courts, is that they do not understand these situations to be legal....” [Read the Executive Summary and full report.]
Contrast with this previous Oregon Legal Research blog post: “People don’t want to talk to lawyers, but they really want legal advice.”
And read more A2J information at the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives.
“Ramsey County Law Library offers DIY help,” by Debra O’Connor, TwinCities dot com, 8/4/14:
Excerpt: “People who have never set foot in a courtroom, and might be wearing baseball hats and shorts, share the elegant, hushed Ramsey County Law Library with lawyers in suits.
They show up because they have legal problems, and here they can find help.
They can explore their options. They can learn about acting as their own lawyer in court. And, for free, they can see lawyers about problems with housing, small claims court or expunging their criminal records….” [Link to full story.]
More stories about legal self-help initiatives can be found at the Access to Justice website.