Access to Justice Commission Requests Proposals For Grants to Support SRLs

self represented litigantsThe Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice (A2J Commission) and the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) are accepting applications for two grants that will expand the network of court personnel who serve self-represented litigants (SRLs).

As the number of SRLs rises, the AOIC seeks to establish or redesign programs to serve this community of court users. In 2015, statistics from the AOIC showed that 93 of the 102 counties in Illinois reported that more than 50% of their civil cases had at least one SRL. In some case types, that number rose as high as 80%.

More information on the two grant initiatives is below.

Online Dispute Resolution Grant

COVID-19’s impact on the court system has highlighted the need for remote tools that allow court users to easily access the courts and resolve their disputes safely.

The A2J Commission seeks innovative and creative proposals that apply technological advancements in online dispute resolution (ODR) to expand access to justice. The goal is to support the incubation and implementation of several ODR programs throughout the state to evaluate their effectiveness, benefits, and challenges.

The A2J Commission encourages proposals across all areas of law, technology platforms, and segments of Illinois’ population, including but not limited to SRLs. Each grant will be for a one-year period from August 1, 2020–July 31, 2021. Grantees may seek renewal at the end of the grant period.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is July 15, 2020. The selection committee anticipates announcing grant recipients on July 31, 2020.

The Request for Proposals for the ODR program is available here.

Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator Grant

For the fourth year of its Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator grant program, the A2J Commission is seeking proposals to establish or redesign programs to meet timely issues faced by SRLs, with a priority on projects that address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples of projects might include telephone or online chat services, developing Guide & File automated interviews to complete forms and seamlessly e-file, helping SRLs with appearing remotely for court dates, or providing safe and socially distant in-person services, according to the press release.

Each grant will be for a one-year period from August 1, 2020-July 31, 2021. Recipients are expected to develop a sustainable path forward to keep the service level consistent at the conclusion of the grant.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is July 15, 2020. The selection committee anticipates announcing grant recipients on July 31, 2020.

Even if a grant is not awarded or requested, a designated staff member may participate in the Court Navigator Network, which includes Coordinators and JusticeCorps members. Network members serve as a bridge, linking their courthouses with others throughout the state to share ideas, develop new resources, and establish programs for assisting SRLs.

The Request for Proposals for the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator program is available here.

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Laura Bagby
As Communications Director, Laura develops and executes strategy to elevate the Commission among attorneys and judges in Illinois. Laura leverages communications channels to educate and engage with the legal community in support of the Commission’s mission of increasing civility and professionalism to enable the administration of justice. When she’s not in the office, you’ll find Laura taking in a show at one of Chicago’s top-notch theatres, planning her next international trip or hanging out in Lincoln Park with her one-eyed Chihuahua, Manny.
Laura Bagby

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Laura Bagby
As Communications Director, Laura develops and executes strategy to elevate the Commission among attorneys and judges in Illinois. Laura leverages communications channels to educate and engage with the legal community in support of the Commission’s mission of increasing civility and professionalism to enable the administration of justice. When she’s not in the office, you’ll find Laura taking in a show at one of Chicago’s top-notch theatres, planning her next international trip or hanging out in Lincoln Park with her one-eyed Chihuahua, Manny.
Laura Bagby

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