DIY in Family Law: A Case Study of a Brief Advice Clinic for Pro Se Litigants

55 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2013  

Linda F. Smith

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Barry Stratford

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Who are the individuals who utilize brief advice clinics? Are they the middle-income educated who take pride in self-advocacy? The moderate-income who, in this age of increasing income inequality, pinch pennies by not hiring private counsel? Or the very poor who do not have access to free legal services after these services have been slashed? And whatever the demographics of the clinic clients, how well does the brief advice clinic meet their needs? This case study of a free brief advice clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah answers these questions and more. What emerges is a portrait of very low-income individuals trying to handle complex, often contested cases on their own. Though highly grateful for the free clinic in the exit interviews, their frustrations rise as the referrals to legal aid prove unhelpful and the challenge of drafting their own court documents proves more substantial than they and their advisers had imagined. This study highlights honorable efforts by volunteer law students and expert family lawyers, but identifies gaps and weaknesses in the public’s access to justice.

Keywords: Pro Se, Self-Represented, Underrepresented

Suggested Citation

Smith, Linda F. and Stratford, Barry, DIY in Family Law: A Case Study of a Brief Advice Clinic for Pro Se Litigants (2012). Journal of Law & Family Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2, p. 167, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2217005

Linda F. Smith (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

Barry Stratford

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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