Could Virtual Aid Improve Court Access For The Lawyerless?

With approximately half of all civil litigants walking into Massachusetts courtrooms without attorneys to provide counsel, a large percentage are potentially exposing themselves to negative legal outcomes as they contend with quotidian matters such as debt, divorces or rent disputes, a nonprofit’s recent study contends.

News Story (Massachusetts)

Kevin Penton
Law360
October 6, 2019
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Tags: Pro Se/Self-Help, Technology

Organizations mentioned/involved: Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice


DETAILS

Massachusetts could help litigants deal with their cases by developing an online help center that could guide people through the basics of legal proceedings, assisting them as they deal with their cases without crossing the line and actually imparting legal advice, according to recommendations included in the study, released Thursday by the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.

The financial background of litigants is typically the impediment that prevents them from hiring attorneys, resulting in a system where two people facing the same claims could end up with a different ruling, simply because of their relative financial resources, according to the study by Massachusetts Appleseed, which works on finding solutions to access to justice issues.

Jake Hofstetter, Massachusetts Appleseed’s research and policy associate, told Law360 there are also people who don’t qualify for receiving pro bono services from legal aid organizations because they are above the federal poverty line, but still don’t have sufficient resources to hire their own attorneys.