Help to unrepresented litigants in Philadelphia

Our courts face a crisis of access: a report by the Pennsylvania Civil Legal Justice Coalition concluded that the staggering number of unrepresented low-income litigants in civil legal matters adversely impacts the quality of justice, negatively impacts the courts’ administration of justice and undermines the rule of law.  Solutions involve not only expanding the availability of legal representation, but also simplifying legal procedures and terminology, and offering information and help to people who must represent themselves.  In collaboration with officials of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, clinic students are focusing on proceedings in which high numbers of litigants are unrepresented.  The goal is to identify the informational and procedural obstacles that these litigants face, and to propose solutions, such as newly drafted educational and informational materials, simplified forms, and proposals for changes in court rules or procedures.