Helping People Without Lawyers in the Courts

Each year, a growing number of people are forced to navigate the court system on their own, with the latest national statistics showing that in a shocking three out of four civil cases at least one party is unrepresented.

One of the CBF’s top priorities over the years has been helping to make the courts more user-friendly and accessible for these growing numbers of people without lawyers. An important part of these efforts has been the CBF’s work with a number of other partners to establish and support a network of advice desks in the state and federal courts.

As we celebrate the CBF’s 70th Anniversary this year, we look back to one of the prime examples of that work, the help desk in the District Court for the Northern District now known as the Hibbler Memorial Pro Se Assistance Program. When that desk was launched back in early 2006, it was the first of its kind in the federal courts anywhere in the country.

Judge William Hibbler (2nd from right), for whom the program would later be renamed in his honor, at the Help Desk opening in 2006 with representatives of the CBF and LAF.

Since that time, lawyers at the Hibbler Desk have provided important advice and assistance to thousands of unrepresented litigants in the District Court. This Desk is just one of many court-based help desks the CBF helped to establish and continues to support today that collectively help tens of thousands of people each year.