A2J = Access to Justice: Words and Names Matter
The Law Librarians at the State Of Wisconsin Law Library know that the difference between a Legal Resource Center or a Legal Information Center and a Law Library matters to Law Library patrons, whether they are lawyers or self-represented litigants. Read this article from their WSLL Newsletter, February 2016 issue:
“Thinking About Designing Courthouses for Access to Justice,” posted on January 17, 2016
by Richard Zorza.
Courthouse construction is on the minds of all Oregonians. As long as the project managers, judges, courthouse employees, and other courthouse occupants and visitors don’t let the architects go all “let’s get an architecture prize!” on them, then taxpayers, judges, lawyers, and litigants may have a chance at getting the courthouses we need and want.
The State of Oregon Law Library (SOLL) is providing statewide access to 2 valuable legal research databases, previously unavailable for remote access to non-attorney Oregonians. (No legal research database is cheap, but pooling resources and making Really Good Value legal research databases available to everyone supports “access to justice” goals: to educate students, voters, and anyone else with an abiding lifelong intellectual curiosity about law, lawmaking, judicial process, legal rights, government, and politics.)
Link to EBSCO and Fastcase, from the SOLL Legal Resources webpage:
“1) EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center
Law Library Hires New Public Services Attorney (from the press release):
“.… The Public Law Library of King County is pleased to announce that Marc Lampson has joined the Public Law Library to serve as the library’s first Public Services Attorney. The newly created position is an innovative response to the ever growing phenomenon of people representing themselves in legal proceedings. Recent statistics from the King County Superior Court show that in 63% of general civil cases at least one party was not represented by a lawyer. In domestic or family law cases, the percentage climbed to 80%. In 91% of the landlord/tenant or eviction cases, only the landlord was represented by a lawyer. In 50% of family law cases, neither side was represented. This trend is typical throughout the United States, and law librarians have found that these unrepresented litigants frequently come to the law library for help.
As a result, a few law libraries in other states have developed self-help centers to provide their patrons with not only research assistance, but legal assistance as well…. [Mark’s] work will eventually entail establishing a self-help center in the library to provide direct legal assistance for patrons and to coordinate further legal assistance through referrals, clinics, workshops, and innovative online methods for the delivery of legal services.
Laura is leaving the building.*
Yes, I’m retiring, but not quite yet and not before the county hires my replacement (assuming that occurs by July 2015).
Excerpt: “The Public Law Library of King County is proud to announce a new full-time, benefit position of Public Services Attorney with the Law Library. The candidate will not only work on as a part-time reference services librarian but will develop policies and procedures to create an Access to Justice Center in the Law Library. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of three years of practice and an active membership with the Washington State Bar Association. A master’s degree in library science and family law experience (or other areas that are commonly needed by a self-represented litigant) are preferred….” [Link to article.]
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.
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.]
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.