Pro Bono News

Do-It-Yourself for the Legal Industry

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Do-It-Yourself for the Legal Industry


"Not everyone loves lawyers.

And now, Harvard Law Professor Jeanne Charn argues that in some instances we might not even need them.

In a recent paper, Charn explores the “access to justice” issue, which concerns the ability of low-income and middle-income individuals to afford a lawyer when they face legal trouble. Charn contends that, rather than improving access to lawyers, the legal community should focus on empowering people to represent themselves in legal proceedings, removing the need for a lawyer in the first place.

To support her point, Charn highlights three studies by her Harvard colleague James Greiner, who examines how people fared in civil legal disputes where they either did or did not have a lawyer. Charn notes that in two of Greiner’s studies – the first involving a court proceeding to get unemployment insurance benefits, and the second involving eviction cases in housing court – people who represented themselves in the dispute fared just as well as those who had a lawyer. However, in the third study, which involved more complex legal disputes, people represented by a lawyer achieved better outcomes than those who represented themselves..."

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