Here is a timely reminder. There is still money available in the access to justice court technical assistance and travel pool established at the National Center for State Courts by a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation. But any grant from the pool must be spent by the end of March of this year. The application materials are simple. Grants can be used to hire a consultant to provide technical assistance, or for travel to a site in order to learn about an innovation that a court is interested in adopting, or similarly to pay the travel for an expert from an innovation site to travel to the potential adoption location.
Here are some possible ideas for how a court might use such a grant.
- Visit California to talk about use of IV-D money to establish Self-help programs. California has been the national leader in using IV-D money as the foundation of statewide self-help program;
- Visit Los Angeles to see Justice Corps in action. Justice Corps brings in college students, using AmeriCorps money, to help litigants with forms and court preparation. The AOC is also very helpful;
- Visit the New York City attorney of the day program in housing court. This program uses unbundling and pro bono approaches and is very successful;
- Visit Austin Texas to look at law library-based self-help services. The Law Library even provides “reference attorneys” who are present in the courtroom to provide information to litigants;
- Go to Minneapolis to see statewide self-help hotline in operation. Such a statewide model is cost effective, and well integrated with online information and tools;
- Visit NYC to learn about on-line forms deployment. There was already been one very successful visit from a different state;
- Learn about the Alaska Court System’s Early Resolution Program wherein volunteer attorneys and court mediators help self-represented litigants resolve newly filed contested divorce and custody cases in one hearing. The self-help center reviews files and identifies cases that have the potential to settle, but need a little unbundled attorney or mediator help;
- Get technical assistance for quick assessment for and already existing self-help program. This can be very helpful in showing the impact of the program, and expanding ideas for the future;
- Get TA for assessment of integration of language access services into self-help program. Often self-help programs are not at the top of the list for language access.
- Consultation for possible expansion of agenda of Access Commission. There are now a huge variety of innovations being supported by Commissions. This would be an opportunity to analyze what the most productive agenda focus might be;
- Help with thinking through funding options to expand access programs.
- TA for taking curriculum modules for judicial education on self-represented cases, and customizing for your state.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list, merely some suggestions. But, act fast. Operators are standing by!