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Roles Beyond Lawyers: New study will open door for examination of how legal needs are met without lawyers

December 9, 2016 Access to Justice

Increasing Access to Justice Through Expanded “Roles Beyond Lawyers”: Preliminary Evaluation And Classification Frameworks

Daily around the country, thousands of people arrive at court not only without a lawyer to represent them but without an understanding of where to go, what to do, or what will happen while they are there. People are particularly likely to appear without attorney representation, or as “self-represented litigants,” in evictions, family and domestic matters, and debt collection cases.

The American Bar Foundation and the National Center for State Courts have released the first product from a joint evaluation research project investigating “roles beyond lawyers.” Funded by the Public Welfare Foundation, the project investigates a key emerging strategy for responding to the access to justice crisis: a growing number of experiments involving new roles for individuals who are now authorized to provide certain specific services traditionally supplied only by lawyers. Such initiatives provide a range of services to litigants appearing without attorneys, sometimes called “self-represented litigants,” from information to moral support to legal advice. This first report presents initial versions of conceptual frameworks for understanding and evaluating the effectiveness and sustainability of these programs.

Read the first report »

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