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The Lubbock County Bar Association and Texas Legal Services Center today released The Legal System: Helping Yourself, a nine minute self-help video that prepares a pro-se (or self-represented) litigant on what to expect when going to civil court.
The video is available for viewing through the popular website TexasLawHelp.org, which is dedicated to providing free, reliable legal information to those who cannot afford legal help or qualify for legal aid.
“The Legal System: Helping Yourself premieres at a crucial time for low-income Texans who need civil legal assistance,” said Judge Judy Parker, Presiding Judge, Lubbock County Court at Law 3, who is featured in the video. “This is a valuable resource for Texans who face the daunting prospect of going to court without an attorney.”
Judge Parker points out that according to the American Bar Association, due to a lack of resources, only about 20 to 25 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income and poor Texans are being met.
Gary Bellair of the Lubbock County Bar Association says, “We were careful to reinforce in the video that people should hire a qualified attorney to handle their legal matter, if possible.” But he points out that for those who cannot afford an attorney or qualify for legal aid, the video highlights the self-help resources, including a live chat feature with an attorney, available on TexasLawHelp.org.
Administered by Texas Legal Service Center, TexasLawHelp.org is a website visited by more than 300,000 unique visitors last year. It provides video resources such as The Legal System: Helping Yourself, along with free do-it-yourself civil legal forms, and important court information. TexasLawHelp.org also provides “interactive” interviews that help individuals create professional-looking legal documents. Divorce without Children, Divorce with Children, and Protective Order packets are already available on the site.
Judge Parker says the video and TexasLawHelp.org resources will save courts, and pro-se litigants, money. “Better prepared self-represented litigants means less burden on the court system,” she said. “We anticipate there will be fewer documents filed incorrectly.”
The video, live chat, and interactive forms are part of a Self-Represented Litigants Project (SRLP) grant, funded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. The grant also supports two self-help legal workstations in the Lubbock County Law Library, which is adjacent to the Lubbock County Courthouse. The workstations act as a portal to TexasLawHelp.org and enable people without Internet connection to access the website’s free legal information.
The SRLP project is part of a national trend to address the growing number of litigants in civil matters who are representing themselves.
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