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Background and Agenda
State Bar of California
article was written in response to the American Bar Associations
Comprehensive Legal Needs Study. This
consortium intended to identify factors and recommend changes to law school
curriculum and continuing legal education designed to prepare solo and
small-firm practitioners to make a living while meeting the needs of the
moderate-income client population. The
relevant recommendations of this consortium have been excerpted and summarized
below. The recommendations numbers
correspond to the appropriate recommendation number from the official source.
Pro Per Assistance
programs that assist litigants in representing themselves in court proceedings
until adequate legal representation can be provided to all who need it.
The Commission on Access to Justice should attempt to ensure that
Californians are not appearing pro per involuntarily and inappropriately that
is, in cases where legal assistance is important but where the litigants go
without because they cannot afford a lawyer.
Meanwhile, the Commission should evaluate and attempt to improve existing
er Friendly Courts
the development and evaluate the results of programs designed to make courts
user friendly to low- and moderate-income individuals.
In its 1993 report, Justice in the Balance:
2020, the Commission of the Future of the California Courts, issued a
series of recommendations intended to make courts more accessible for litigants
disadvantaged in some way:
services to be made available to all court users who require them, including
those without fluency in English, the sight and hearing impaired, and the
that are built or remodeled to be designed and built to ensure access for
all, including the disabled.
to institute evening or weekend sessions, where public access to justice can
language of justice, including forms and procedures, to be comprehensible
and clear in both the spoken and written word
information to be provided through widely available technologies, including
the telephone, the computer and interactive video.
kiosks to be in stalled, staffed by helpful employees at which court users,
especially those unrepresented by counsel, can obtain information and
guidance on the dispute resolution system.
Commission on Access to justice should monitor and evaluate the California
courts progress towards these and other related goals.
As funding permits, the Commission should establish its own pilot
projects to determine what types of court services would best provide access to
low-and moderate-income litigants.
And Justice for All: Fulfilling
the Promise of Access to Civil Justice in California
State Bar of California Office of Legal Services, Access to Justice Working
Group June, 1995