As a public policy matter, the Boston Bar Association
has long been concerned about the plight of self-represented litigants in the
Massachusetts Court System, and even published a report
on the issue in 1998. With more such
litigants today than ever before, the BBA's Public
Interest Leaders have come forward to help.
The Public Interest Leaders have volunteered to help the Edward Brooke
Courthouse launch a Court Service Center pilot program designed
to better assist self-represented litigants in navigating the legal system and
court proceedings without the assistance of counsel. In addition to providing greater
access to justice for these litigants, the goal is to ease the workload of the
courts – creating a more efficient system for all.
Interest Leaders will focus on providing materials and resources to the pilot
program, including a resource guide for self-represented litigants, FAQ sheets,
and multilingual cover sheets for legal forms, among other items. The Service
Center will not offer legal advice, but rather provide options for the litigants
to find appropriate and affordable legal counsel – for example, through the
BBA's Lawyer Referral Service or Lawyer for the Day Programs.
initiative of the BBA's Public Interest Leaders was approved by the BBA Council,
and will be conducted in close collaboration with Brooke Courthouse Court
Service Center Working Group and various BBA Sections. It is expected that the
Public Interest Leaders will help to create a workable structure for the Service
Center over the next year.
Even as these Public Interest Leaders set out
to complete this important initiative, the BBA is preparing to recruit a new
group to become Public Interest Leaders starting in May. To learn more about the
program, an information
session will be held on January 13. Applications for the next class are