American Judges Association



Date of this Version



Court Review - Volume 57


Used by permission.


The year 2020 is one that the legal system, and the world as a whole, will not soon forget. In the midst of a global pandemic, we have been asked to stay at home, people have lost their jobs in droves, and enforced social distancing protocols have caused courts throughout the country to close fully or partially. In an effort to minimize the disruptions caused by COVID-19, courts quickly began to restructure their processes and use virtual services to continue assisting the public. Now, months into the pandemic, it is clearer than ever that courts must provide both in-person and virtual self-help services, with an emphasis on increasing access to information in order for self-represented litigants to receive the help they need. Consider that in a normal year, more than 70 percent of civil and family cases involve at least one self-represented party.1 Many of these litigants encounter great difficulty in understanding what to do and when to do it.