Virtual Self-Help Law Center - Contra Costa Superior Court

Self-Help icon Project Name: Virtual Self-Help Law Center
Court: Contra Costa Superior Court
   Links: Court Self-Help Law Center

Overview/Program Description:

The Virtual Self-Help Law Center is a website that provides over 2,500 pages of expert legal information for self-represented litigants in English and Spanish, in text, video, and audio formats. The case types covered include: family law (adoption, child custody, child support, divorce, domestic violence, parentage, spousal support, and termination of parental rights); probate (guardianship); small claims; traffic; and unlawful detainer. In 2013, the pages on the site were viewed more than 1,500,000 times by over 381,000 unique visitors.

Program Benefits/Savings:

By making this information available through the web on a robust, searchable site, fewer self-represented litigants require personal assistance from court staff. The website saves significant staff time and resources. The website has a survey function which people may use to give comments about the program. Most people who filled out the survey felt that after using the website they understood their legal rights and responsibilities better, felt they understood the court's paperwork requirement better, had more confidence about using the court system, and now felt prepared to file a legal document or pleading with the court. If the website covered the area of law in which they were interested, they felt that it was very easy to find what they were looking for and to understand the information once they found it.

In addition to the online survey, the court uses Google Analytics to track site usage, including information about the number of people who visited the site, whether a user is a new visitor or returning visitor, which pages are most visited, and other information that helps the court determine how to enhance the website. These analytics show the steadily increasing popularity of the site. Another gauge of success is the fact that the website for the Judicial Council links to content on the Virtual Self-Help Law Center website in many places. In addition, 16 other courts up and down the state link to this project's material.

Other Courts Using Similar Programs:

  • Fresno Superior Court (Self-Help Pilot Program Spanish Speaking Model)
  • Glenn Superior Court (Butte/Glenn/Tehama Self-Help Pilot Project Regional Model)
  • Los Angeles Superior Court (Self-Help Pilot Program Urban Collaboration Model)
  • Monterey Superior Court (English and Spanish website)
  • Orange Superior Court (Court Self-Help Website)
  • San Bernardino Superior Court
  • San Francisco Superior Court (Self-Help Pilot Program Multilingual Model)
  • Sutter Superior Court
  • Tehama Superior Court (Butte/Glenn/Tehama Self-Help Pilot Project Regional Model)
  • Ventura Superior Court (Online Self-Help Directory)