IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, is dedicated to finding practical and innovative ways of increasing access to justice and removing barriers to full engagement with the court system, particularly for self-represented litigants or SRLs. To this end, the IAALS undertook a self-study of SRLs in family law cases and concluded that the existing tools for facilitating access to justice within the court system are inadequate. Resources that do exist need better support to ensure that the legal needs of SRLs are more fully addressed.
Following their self-study, the IAALS published a report, released last month, with recommendations for helping SRLs navigate the legal system. Using technology to expand existing self-help tools and to develop more options for access to justice is the key. Artificial intelligence, online dispute resolution, litigant case management systems, case alerts and case tracking tools are just a few of the ideas proposed in the report. Challenges to developing and implementing these solutions are presented as well. An appendix provides suggestions for both litigant-facing solutions and court infrastructure solutions, emphasizing the need for a process improvement model that integrates both.
Increasing efficiencies and improving the user experience is the goal, ensuring that litigants are more fully informed and that court operations are executed in the best possible manner. The report is available on the IAALS website.