The Law Decoded: Virginia (beta test)

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, AALL Special Committee on Access to Justice 2014 Report

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.]

“Oregon Statutory Time Limitations” 2014 Edition (BarBooks)

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 (Open Law Lab)

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.

Why People Don’t Ask for Legal Help: It’s Not Just About Money

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.

 

Free Legal Research and Self-Help Resources in … St. Paul, Minnesota!

“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.

Why You Need to Call the Police if Your Caregiver or Employee Steals From You

Hat tip to Law for Real People blog: Why You Need to Call the Police if Your Caregiver or Employee Steals From You

Excerpt: “I just had a call from a very nice person who needs caregivers around-the-clock, 365 days a year. One of these caregivers recently stole money from from my friend. My friend said it happened about six weeks ago, and that the person was no longer serving as a caregiver, so she was just going to let it go.

I had to explain to her why it was so important that she call the police:

Because other people looking to hire caregivers are going to look at the home-care workers’ registry and look at the results of the criminal background checks, and if she doesn’t file a police report about the theft, this caregiver will appear to have both a lot of experience and no problems in her background….” [Link to full blog post.]

Oregon Adds Statewide Abuse Reporting Line: (855) 503-SAFE

You may also need to call the Medicaid Fraud Unit (MFU) at 971-673-1971 (see also the DOJ Medicaid Fraud website.)

Access to Justice? “Change afoot in American civil justice system” (Legal Rebels)

“Change afoot in American civil justice system,” Jul 22, 2014, by Rebecca Love Kourlis (former justice of the Colorado Supreme Court).

Excerpt:
“…. Due process in the American civil justice system is like sweet green grass: It is essential to our lifeblood, but too much can be deadly. Beginning in 2008, the profession began to sound the alarm that the civil justice system was indeed in danger of foundering. The ABA Section of Litigation was part of that chorus. More than 3,000 members of the section participated in a survey (PDF), which found that:

  • Litigation is too expensive (81 percent).
  • Because of those costs, smaller cases are not litigated and access is denied (82 percent).
  • Litigation costs are not proportional to the value in a small case (89 percent) nor even to the value in a large case (40 percent).
  • The cost of litigation forces cases to settle that should not settle based on the merits (83 percent)

.” [Link to full article.]

For more Access to Justice (A2J, aka ATJ) news, visit Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice blog.

Legal Reference Tips for Oregon Public Service Librarians and Library Assistants

1) There are excellent legal research guides and links at the Oregon Law Help website. Legal aid lawyers compile these materials and links to a wide range of organizations.

2) The Multnomah Bar Association produces English and Spanish versions of:

Youth Faces the Law: A Juvenile Rights Handbook and Domestic Violence: A Guide to Your Rights

3) And don’t forget our guide: OREGON LEGAL ASSISTANCE RESOURCE GUIDE (from the Washington County Law Library)

Open Law Lab: “People don’t want to talk to lawyers, but they really want legal advice.”

Open Law Lab is a wonderful website, curious, provocative, funny, wise, and more. It stands on its own (enjoy!) but it is also an excellent companion to Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog.

One of my (several) favorite Open Law Lab “images of law” is the blog post titled: Law for Normal People. It includes a graphic with this text that pretty much sums up everything that makes legal self-help center and public law library program management so confounding:

“People don’t want to talk to lawyers, but they really want legal advice. (See its original posting at the Stanford d. school blog, Whiteboard.) And read more about the lawyer / artist: Margaret Hagan.