Experiences of the Self-Represented

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By , May 23, 2013 8:00 am

by Mary Whisner

This post has been adapted from a post on the Trial Ad (and other) Notes blog.

It’s tough enough to handle litigation when you’re a lawyer, but it’s incredibly stressful and daunting when you don’t.

CBC’s Day Six has a 15-minute story on self-represented litigants (May 18, 2013). It begins with a moving interview of middle-class Vancouver woman who ran out of money for her lawyer about five months and $50,000 into her case. She’s well-spoken and well-educated (master’s degree) and was still overwhelmed.

Next the host interviews Julie Macfarlane, a law professor who conducted a study of unrepresented litigants in three provinces (BC, Alberta, Ontario). The report: Julie Macfarlane, The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants: Final Report (May 2013). One of the researchers on the report was a librarian who surveyed the court materials available to self-represented litigants.

Report Cover

I have just scrolled through the report quickly, but it looks very interesting. Canadians and the Canadian court system are similar enough to US folks and the US legal system that the report is very relevant to our access-to-justice issues.

Julie Macfarlane teaches law at the University of Windsor. Her faculty bio is here.

May Program – Lunch with Jean Wenger

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By , May 21, 2013 2:38 pm

May Program – Lunch with Jean Wenger
Perkins Coie
1201 3rd Avenue, Floor 48 (take elevator to floor 49)

LLOPS cordially invites you to share your ideas and lunch with AALL President Jean Wenger on Wednesday, May 29th from noon to 1:00 pm at Perkins Coie.

Because Jean would like to target her remarks to issues that matter most to you, LLOPS has prepared a brief survey. PLEASE take a moment to share your thoughts with us and, also, let us know if you plan to attend. Respond by 5/22/2013.

Perkins Coie is located at 1201 Third Avenue. Please take the elevator to floor 49. Staff will direct you down the stairs to the conference room on floor 48.

Pizza and salad will be served

San Francisco Law Library and Friends Challenge City’s Relocation Plan

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By , May 20, 2013 3:47 pm

by Tal Noznisky
The San Francisco Law Library is facing a less than desirable relocation. Scheduled for eviction from its current location, it has stayed put by challenging the legal grounds of the city’s plan. Last month, however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance subcommittee approved a decision to grant the library 20,000 square feet, significantly less than the 30,000—35,000 requested.

San Francisco Law Library

According to San Francisco’s City Charter, the library must be allotted adequate space for its collection of 250,000 books. All of those books and print materials, argued the library and its supporters, are essential, costly, and potentially unattainable.

The Law Library currently lives at the War Veterans Memorial Building, across the street from City Hall. It landed there almost 20 years ago as a temporary arrangement. The Memorial Building location only has 14,310 sq. ft. Two-thirds of the library’s collection must be stored in a nearby basement facility. When the city secured funds to renovate the Memorial Building in 2010, finding a sustainable storage and location solution became urgent.The Law Library is currently awaiting a judge’s decision on whether it may remain at its current location until some significant issues are permanently resolved. Though the city-approved 20,000 sq. ft. would seem like an improvement, Jon Streeter, another supportive voice from San Francisco’s legal community, disagrees. “It is not a matter of a stack of old dusty books being warehoused somewhere,” he said, “It is a matter of providing basic access to the courthouse to the public.”

Back to the Salt Mines

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By , May 13, 2013 10:55 am

by Grace Feldman

Public access to legal materials, digitization and authentication of legal materials, and budget cuts are frequent topics covered in conferences, literature and blogs like this one.  These interrelated issues have been discussed and debated ad nauseum, so when Hollee Schwartz Temple’s Are Digitization and Budget Cuts Compromising History? was published in the ABA Journal, the article may have looked like one you already read several times.   While some of the stories were familiar, Temple’s coverage of LLMC’s preserved print collection in salt mines 650 feet below ground gave a whole new meaning to the expression, “back to the salt mines.”

Salt Mines

Recognizing debates over public access, digitization, authentication and budget cuts will continue indefinitely, for a moment let’s appreciate the ingenuity these problems have inspired: preservation in salt mines, UELMA, collaboration (like that between California and LLMC to digitize all of the state’s session laws), etc.

Okay, now back to the salt mines… really.

FDsys reaches 500 million retrievals!

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By , May 6, 2013 8:00 am

by Anna L. Endter

This post has been reposted on the Gallagher Law Library blog


Gary Somerset of the Government Printing Office reports that FDsys has achieved 500 million retrievals:

The U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) Federal Digital System (FDsys) has achieved the milestone of 500 million document retrievals. FDsys is a one-stop site for authentic, published information on the three branches of the Federal Government. Retrievals are measured by the number of times content is viewed or downloaded from FDsys. GPO launched FDsys in January 2009 and since that time it has expanded to include 800 thousand searchable titles. Examples of content found on FDsys include: the post-President Kennedy’s assassination tape recordings, President Nixon’s Watergate grand jury testimony, the Budget of the U.S. Government, the Congressional Record, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, and congressional bills, hearings, and reports. GPO is continually adding content and working with agencies on new collection opportunities.

Don’t overlook FDsys when researching federal material. There are a few ways to search FDsys (search box, browsing, by citation, etc.) and the underlying documents are authentic and free.

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