As many of you know, I have been a big advocate of the Justice Corps Program, which uses AmeriCorps students to assist people in courts. Los Angeles has piloted the concept with great success.
Now comes news from Cook County Illinois, where they are using the idea to enhance services in the County Foreclosure Mediation Program. Danielle Hirsch, of the Chicago Bar Foundation, writes: “In Justice Corps news, we are finally launching our first formal pilot program this January. We are working with the Circuit Court of Cook County’s new Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program to put law student Justice Corps volunteers outside of mortgage foreclosure courtrooms and the chancery advice desk to help pro se litigants seeking information about the mortgage foreclosure process, court process and to help complete answers, appearance forms and, where relevant, fee waiver petitions. Our Justice Corps pilot students will be working with the legal aid lawyers that are already staffing the legal advice desk to increase capacity and leverage their resources to that the lawyers can be providing legal advice and the law students will be providing legal information. So far, we have recruited about 15 students to participate, and they speak Arabic, Spanish, Russian and English and several of them either have personally experienced the foreclosure process or have loved ones and friends that have. I am hopeful that this will be a really great way to demonstrate to the larger Court of the value of a Justice Corps program.” Contact Danielle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the link to the Foreclosure program.
For more information on the Justice Corps concept, contact Martha Wright at the California AOC, Martha.Wright@jud.ca.gov.
The Self-Represented Litigation Network Court Leadership Package (launched at the 2008 Court Solutions Conference, includes materials on establishing such a Justice Corps program. These are on www.selfhelpsupport.org, which is a free membership site for access to justice practitioners hosted by the National Center for State Courts and the Self-Represented Litigation Network.