Pro Se Litigation in Times of Financial Hardship - A Legal Crisis and its Solutions

51 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2011

Date Written: May 3, 2011


This article discusses recent ABA reports on pro se legal representation and changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct that give lawyers more flexibility in assisting pro se litigants. Because many pro se representations are in family law cases, the article emphasizes the difficulties of pro se litigants in family court. The article then proposes that unauthorized practice of law restrictions be liberalized to allow on-line providers to sell legal forms, assistance with completion of those forms and other law related services. The benefits of allowing such non-lawyer providers entry into the market for legal services outweigh the potential compromise in the quality of legal services, particularly when so many parties cannot afford to hire a lawyer. At the same time, providers of on-line forms and law related services should be subject to licensing requirements and regulation for quality control and prevention of conflicts of interest. This article discusses how a law related service provider licensing regime might accomplish those objectives while facilitating access to services that pro se litigants badly need.

Keywords: family law, divorce, pro se, unauthorized practice of law, on-line legal services

Suggested Citation

Painter, Richard W., Pro Se Litigation in Times of Financial Hardship - A Legal Crisis and its Solutions (May 3, 2011). Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 1, p. 45, Spring 2011, Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-42, Available at SSRN:

Richard W. Painter (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-626-9707 (Phone)

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