The Facts About Self Represented Litigants

Self Represented LitigantsFor the last several years the National Self Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) has been studying Self Represented Litigants (SRLs) in Canada to determine why the number of SRLs continues to climb year after year.

Since 2011, the project has surveyed a number of SRLs through focus-groups, one-on-one interviews, and online surveys to gauge trends in the psychographics and demographics of litigants, the types of cases being filed, and litigants’ previous experiences with lawsuits and lawyers.

The results of the 2014-2015 surveyTracking the Continuing Trends of the Self Represented Litigant Phenomenon – showed that SRLs’ age, gender, and educational experience were fairly widespread. However it also showed that the vast majority of litigants were earning less than $30,000 a year.

The survey also found that fewer SRLs were appearing in family court than ever before, and, interestingly enough, 92% of the SRLs had dealt with a lawyer in the past on previous legal matters. In fact, 65% of the respondents had engaged a lawyer for their current case but let him/her go for a number of reasons.

As this trend continues to rise, the legal profession must take note and adapt accordingly. Is it time for lawyers to rethink the way they practice?

Erika Kubik

Erika Kubik

Former Communications Specialist at Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

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Erika Kubik

Erika Kubik

Former Communications Specialist at Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

8 thoughts on “The Facts About Self Represented Litigants

  1. Self Represented Litigants are good if the parties are indigent and cannot afford a traditional Lawyer or Attorney. It is their right, however there are too many individuals taking on the role that have no legal training, background or knowledge of court protocols and proceedings; how to address the courts, it’s plaintiffs Attorneys and the Judges. Usually, I have seen Self Represented Litigants appear before the Judge with small claim cases under 10,000.00. They would be complete fools if they attempted any amount over 10K or to Self Represent a Corporation that they own. The case would be automatically thrown out and here in Illinois, they simply could not do so. Therefore, I believe that the courts should make it mandatory for Self Represented Litigants consult with an Attorney prior to the court date; either pro bono or in some form of a small fee. Usually, there are specific dates once per week that the courts provide free legal aid to indigents and other individuals.

    1. Why not suggest that the first court be one wherein the court (our court that our tax dollar pay for) assess the case and PROPERLY direct it top small claims with PROPERLY laid out reasons tot eh SRL? The lawyers owe us nothing but you better believe the court does. Instead we have judges of bad temperament trying to scare away SRLs with cost to the lawyers. That is tantamount tot he court committing robbery. The sad part is they usually say how they are acting in the interest of justice. Spare me. Too many judges have no idea what “in the interest of justice” means

  2. As per above comment about SRLs not having a “…background or knowledge of court protocols and proceedings,” ‘The Law,’ as is succinctly interpreted by writers such as Fred Rodell as early as 1939 in his book ‘WOE UNTO YOU LAWYERS’ is not about Justice. The courts and its ‘proceedings’ have zero to do with a citizen’s rights. ‘Due Process’ is purely the rhetoric given the foregone conclusion that those who can afford to buy their way through whatever ‘argument’ presented shall win their day in court.
    Like the accountant asking the client: “Do you want to show a profit or a loss? I can give you either one.” The legal profession runs our world. Democracy and a citizen’s rights are a fallacy.
    In order to create Justice, we would have to turn the business inside-out, and start from scratch!
    This would literally require a well-organized revolution, since corruption is inherent in most all our systems.

  3. the suggestion that the public should be “made” to consult with lawyers is just silly. we would gladly have a lawyer if we could afford one, and most self represented are re victimized by the courts themselves. yes, we should have a complete revolution, and rid ourselves of the beurogracy that is in really running the justice system. we the public are supposed to have the absolute right to access to justice, but we do not. we have no rights at all really. and it is the justice system that has systematically stolen them. lawyers are there just to make sure that almost no one actually bothers the judges and the rest of the worthless members of this system

  4. But most citizens do not have any knowledge to address the courts.

    Let me briefly explain; “court protocols and proceedings”. A courtroom as has a formal structure to the surroundings and proceedings with defined roles, responsibilities, and rules for the participants.
    This is what is called the courtroom protocol.

    An Attorney or Lawyer would be reprimanded if they did not address the judge in the proper manner. Courts are formal establishments; so if it is mandatory for Counsel, it is definitely so for lay people.

    Proper protocol and procedures are not a form of “citizens rights” but a citizen (as aforementioned) has a right to defend themselves in court PROVIDED they have a clear understanding of courtroom “protocol and procedures”.

    I trust that I have clarified my post.

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