Equal Access

Materials for Providers of Legal Self-Help Service

Research and Evaluation

This section contains evaluations from self-help centers, sample forms, and evaluation strategies, as well as links to other research on self-represented litigants.

See the Self-Help Tracking and Reporting Survey (STARS) page for information on the STARS tool.

Visual Overview of the Assessment Tools for Self Represented Litigants - This is a flow chart of the assessment resources available, their purposes and the overall value of implementation.

Guide To Self Assessment of Court Programs To Assist Self-Represented Litigants - This Guide describes all the tools and how to use them.

Tour Guide  - This explains how to observe the courthouse and court processes from the point of view of a self-represented litigant.

Best Practices Checklist - This can be used by a court to use in assessing the extent to which it is following the procedures and practices that national experts consider optimal in dealing with self-represented litigants.

Model for a Comprehensive Self Assessment - This provides a complete model for a court that wishes to fully and completely assess its program from A to Z.

Summary of Ethical Guidelines for Conducting Interviews and Data Collection  - This document provides general guidance for courts conducting self assessments about ethical issues such as obtaining informed consent from persons providing information to the court and maintaining the confidentiality of personal information obtained.

Evaluation Planning Workbook -- How to Use focus Groups and Other Evaluation Methods to Improve Court Based Self-Help Centers (May 2007) (Prepared by the Center for Families, Children and the Courts, Judicial Council of California).

Tools for Evaluation of Court-Based Self-Help Centers

Presentation on Evaluation - Bonnie Hough, National Conference on Community Based Access to Justice, February 20, 2014

Workshop Participant Survey - developed by the Judicial Council of California for the evaluation of model self-help pilot programs.

Self-Help Center Customer Survey - developed by the Judicial Council of Californfor the evaluation of model self-help pilot programs.

Exit Survey - This can be used to collect data from all persons leaving a courthouse, with a supplement seeking additional information from self-represented litigants.

Guidelines for Data Gathering - This explains how to administer the Exit Survey and the Judge and Staff Survey. The user should read these guidelines before administering any surveys.

Basic Interview Formats - These are for use in talking with litigants, judges, court personnel, lawyers, representatives of other community organizations (such as legal aid and social services) about their experiences with self-represented litigants and their perceptions of the needs of these litigants. There are two basic formats – one for litigants and one for all stakeholders.

  • Self Represented Litigant Survey Database - This provides a tool for the court to use to enter the data collected from the Exit Survey and review reports and interactive queries showing the results of the survey data collected.
  • Judge and Staff Survey  - This can be used to obtain court personnel’s perceptions of the court’s success in dealing with self-represented litigants, their views on problems encountered by self-represented litigants, and actions the court could take to alleviate them.

Basic Interview Formats - These are for use in talking with litigants, judges, court personnel, lawyers, representatives of other community organizations (such as legal aid and social services) about their experiences with self-represented litigants and their perceptions of the needs of these litigants. There are two basic formats – one for litigants and one for all stakeholders.

Access, Fairness, and Diversity: Toolkit of Educational Resources for California Courts
Goal 1 of the Judicial Branch’s Strategic Plan is to ensure access, fairness, and diversity in California’s courts and is also a key goal in some local court strategic plans. Ensuring access, fairness, and diversity can, however, be a challenging undertaking for any court. The “Access, Fairness, and Diversity Self-Assessment Toolkit” is designed to help courts:
  1. voluntarily look at how they are working to achieve access, fairness, and diversity in their court;
  2. get ideas about other aspects of access, fairness, and diversity they may want to improve; and
  3. obtain links to existing educational and training resources that may help courts achieve their goals of improving access, fairness, and diversity.

Courts may use the toolkit, in whole or in part, to conduct a private self-assessment and are not asked to share the results of any self-assessment with others. While the toolkit does not provide an exhaustive list of access, fairness, and diversity concerns, it highlights common issues that courts may want to consider. The toolkit will be periodically updated to reflect new access, fairness, and diversity concerns and to include updated educational resources. This tool is intended for Presiding Judges, Court Executive Officers, and a variety of court staff, including those involved in management, information technology, education, and self-help services. The toolkit is available in Word if you would like to customize.

Guidelines for the Use of Focus Groups - Focus groups can be used to obtain information from small groups of persons, such as self-represented litigants using the court, a specific minority group that has not traditionally used the court due to cultural barriers, or a group of judges who have a high volume of self-represented litigant cases.

Using Focus Groups in Program Evaluation (Prepared for the California Conference on Self-Represented Litigants).

Culturally Appropriate Focus Group Information (Prepared by the Superior Court of California, County of Imperial )

Program Evaluations