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Self-Represented Litigant e-Filing: Best Practices to Reduce Barriers to Justice for Self-Represented Litigants

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Organization: Central Minnesota Legal Services

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2014

CONTACT:
Jean Lastine, Central Minnesota Legal Services
612-746-3772/jlastine@centralmnlegal.org

Self-Represented Litigant e-Filing: Best Practices to Reduce Barriers to Justice for Self-Represented Litigants
Central Minnesota Legal Services, Pro Bono Net
and Legal Services Corporation Partner to Release Best Practices Guide

Minneapolis, MN  January 3, 2014 – Central Minnesota Legal Services (CMLS), Pro Bono Net and Legal Services Corporation (LSC) recently released Principles and Best Practices for Access-Friendly Court Electronic Filing (The Best Practices), a guide intended to ensure that electronic filing of court documents is deployed nationally in a way that removes barriers to access to justice.

The Best Practices was developed by Richard Zorza, an attorney and independent consultant who, for the past fifteen years, has worked on issues of access to justice. Funding from the Legal Services Corporation through a Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) enabled CMLS to develop a national model for access-friendly, e-filing solutions for self-represented litigants.  In addition to the Best Practices the Minnesota Judicial Branch, Legal Services State Support, and Pro Bono Net, are partners in the project.

Zorza has been involved in almost every major initiative in access to justice for the self-represented.  He was the primary consultant to the Washington State Access to Justice Technology Principles, which were adopted by State Supreme Court Order, and which dealt with similar issues. Zorza has collaborated with the Minnesota Courts on Self-Represented Litigant Network projects including an evaluation of the Minnesota Self Help Center.

To develop The Best Practices, Zorza convened an advisory group, working in close contact with the Self-Represented Litigation Network, which provided extensive input in the development of The Best Practices.  The advisory group included representatives from state court administrators, legal services programs and LSC.

Jim Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation, said, “The Best Practices is an important and very practical guide to improving access to justice, crafted by the nation’s leading expert on self-represented litigants.  LSC will encourage broad distribution and widespread use of the guide’s recommendations.”

The Best Practices is posted on the LSC’s website, Legal Services Corporation.

 

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About Pro Bono Net
Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation.  Pro Bono Net uses innovative web-based platforms—www.probono.net, www.lawhelp.org and www.lawhelpinteractive.org —to recruit and support volunteer lawyers and provide direct information and tools for self-representation to low-income communities.   Pro Bono Net also developed Pro Bono Manager, pro bono practice management software that helps AmLaw 200 law firms increase pro bono participation, manage pro bono caseloads and raise internal and external awareness of pro bono efforts.  For more information, visit www.probono.net.

Congress authorized funding for the Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program beginning in 2000. Through 2012, LSC has made more than 525 TIG awards, totaling over $40 million.
TIG funding has provided LSC with a remarkable opportunity to explore new ways to serve eligible persons and to help build legal aid programs' capacities. It has supported projects to develop, test and replicate technologies that improve client access to high quality legal information and pro se assistance. It has also helped programs enhance their overall information technology infrastructure.
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LSC was established by the Congress in 1974 to provide equal access to justice and to ensure the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

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