Equal Access

Materials for Providers of Legal Self-Help Service

2011 California Conference on Self-Represented Litigants


This web site contains information and resource materials from the 2011 California Conference on Self-Represented Litigants.

For further information, please contact Joseph Nguyen at joseph.nguyen@jud.ca.gov.


Faculty Biographies

Wednesday, June 8

Civil Harassment Nuts and Bolts

This all-day workshop is designed to give a general overview of the law and procedure related to civil harassment restraining orders, including the increased demand for assistance by SRL’s in this field. It will also discuss the benefits and risks of civil harassment mediation; how to assess the propriety of mediation and make referrals; how to conduct civil harassment mediation, draft settlement agreements and orders, and enforce them. It will report on the program models from lead and collaborating courts, provide and exchange of materials and share information about resources to develop or improve upon successful civil harassment mediation programs. New methods to help self represented litigants prepare pleadings for civil harassment orders and how to prepare for hearings will also be presented.  

Civil Harassment Screening Checklist

Notes on Civil Harassment Restraining Orders

Civil Harassment Restraining Order Procedure Flowchart

Restraining Order Procedure in Inglewood

Small Claims Boot Camp

This all-day workshop is designed to give a general overview of the small claims process. New small claims advisors, self-help staff, clerks and others who are likely to receive questions from the public about small claims would benefit from attending. Small claims courtrooms are filled with consumers. Topics include: bad checks, habitability, escrow funds, treble damages, tow statutes, and advertising issues. The session will explain and explore common and uncommon ways to collect a civil money judgment.  

Complete Workshop Packet

Domestic Violence

This all-day workshop will provide skills to help self-help center staff, legal services and family court services staff assist both petitioners and respondents in domestic violence cases. It will include discussion of the basics of domestic violence and its impact, how to help litigants prepare effective declarations, how to provide services in the courtroom, and how to cope with the stress associated with working on these cases. It will also review discuss screening strategies for mediation or other settlement efforts and identify ways to address power imbalances and ensure a safe environment for settlement discussions.

Mediation and In Person Screening

Screening and Triage Flowchart

Invitation to Comment, SPR11-52, Domestic Violence – Family Law: Stipulated Judgment of Parentage in Domestic Violence Prevention Act Cases.

Invitation to Comment, SPR11-55, Family Law - Domestic Violence: adopt rule of court regarding modification of child custody and visitation orders and revise, approve, adopt, and revoke forms used in Domestic Violence Prevention Act cases.

Thursday, June 9

Meeting the Needs of the Spanish Speaking Self-Help Customer

This session will examine the cultural experiences underlying communications with Spanish-speaking litigants, and demonstrate some practical communication ideas from the perspective of the bilingual self help center staff person, including a discussion of the role of the interpreter in a self help center.  

Workshop PowerPoint presentation

Other Handouts

Enhancing Services to Self-Represented Litigants through Free or Low Cost Technology

As tough economic times make the need for self-help services increase while service providers’ budgets decrease, free and low-cost technologies for self-help centers and law libraries can stretch tight services and budgets. Implementing easy, inexpensive technologies free up staff time, enable distance services, and allow greater SRL outreach. Gain a practical review with examples of free and low cost technologies such as GoAnimate, Audacity, and Meebo that self-help centers, law libraries, and other SRL services can quickly adapt to their specific organizations, as well as share with others.  

Workshop Handouts

Addressing Domestic Violence in Native American Communities

Receive an overview of tribal and non-tribal self help programs in California, including practical information on how to provide culturally appropriate, safe and confidential advocacy and support. Learn about improved access to courts and services to Native Americans impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault who live in primarily isolated and rural communities, and how these services are provided by the Northern California Tribal Courts Coalition in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, and in Inyo and Imperial Counties, while sharing strategies that work in your communities.  

DV in Native American Communities - Resources

Tribal Outreach and Engagement Strategies

Map of California Tribal and Federal Lands

Brochure for Women's Legal Advocacy Program, part of the Bishop Paiute Tribe

Federally Recognized California Tribes, with map and links.

Invitation to Comment SPR11-53, Tribal Court Protective Orders: Registration and Enforcement.

Bankruptcy Issues

This discussion will cover issues regarding the interplay of the bankruptcy court and small claims court. This will include the nuts and bolts of making a small claims judgment based upon fraud non-dischargeable in bankruptcy court.  

Bankruptcy, Small Claims Court, and the Consumer

Assisting Self-Represented Litigants Facing Administrative Agency Hearings – Resources for Your Customers

Many SRL’s find themselves having to prepare for an administrative hearing process before coming to court. This session will provide an overview of key administrative agencies, and how to prepare SRL’s for administrative hearings before these boards, including helpful resources.

PowerPoint presentation (1 of 2)

PowerPoint presentation (2 of 2)

Administrative Hearing Procedure - Overview and Links

Helpful Tips on How to Represent Yourself at a State Hearing

Your Hearing Rights

California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board - Office of Appeals Hearing Information

Self-Help – A Work in Progress

This interactive workshop focuses on California’s evolution of self-help services over the last several years. Discuss the reasons for transformation and how to make adjustments to programs, including staff changes, volunteer and partner changes, evolving self-help ethics standards, delivery and case type changes. 

New Ways to Handle Civil Harassment Cases - Self-Help and Mediation Assistance for Civil Harassment Litigants

This session will explore how mediation can be used in civil harassment cases to improve outcomes for the parties and save court resources. Collaborations between courts and mediation providers help to address the growing number of civil harassment restraining order requests using existing program resources.  

Workshop Materials Packet

Partnering To Increase Access for Limited English Speaking Litigants

Learn how Orange County Superior Court partnered with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center to develop an interpreter internship program and the first Vietnamese language Self-Help workshops.  

Presentation Outline and Resources

Developing Online Tools to Assist SRLs: The FAQ Approach

 This program will demonstrate innovative technology projects to strengthen partnerships, and will feature web-based FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) that increase and enhance SRL services. Partnerships, technology innovation, content development and leveraging existing resources all play a role in creating web-based FAQ’s and this program will describe successful models that have implemented these strategies, including best practices for replication.

PowerPoint Presentation (1 of 3)

PowerPoint Presentation (2 of 3)

PowerPoint Presentation (3 of 3)

Domestic Violence - A Collaborative Approach to Addressing the Needs of SRLs Seeking or Responding to Orders

 This workshop addresses the legal and safety concerns of SRL’s seeking or responding to restraining orders in Family Court. Presenters will provide an overview of a unique, collaborative court based program providing direct social services during restraining order hearings while linking to legal services as needed or requested.

PowerPoint Presentation

Mortgage Modifications, HAMP, and Foreclosure Litigation

Presenters will review mortgage modifications, the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable modification program (HAMP) and discuss the guidelines and standard qualification waterfall tests. The second half of the sessions will be spent looking at foreclosure litigation and close with a review of Orange County’s unique 90-day Stay Order and process.

PowerPoint Presentation (1 of 2)

PowerPoint Presentation (2 of 2)

Teaching Basic Civil Discovery in a Workshop Setting

See how the Sacramento County Public Law Library assists SRL’s with the fundamental concepts of civil discovery in a workshop setting. The staff attorney for Self-Help Center will demonstrate key elements of this workshop, and provide practical materials, advice and anecdotes useful to implementing your own program. The workshop will review the most common types of written civil discovery as well as the procedural deadlines that apply to that discovery. It will provide you with tools to communicate to self-represented litigants in a group setting using handouts, PowerPoint, and/or slides the basic procedures for propounding and responding to the most common types of written discovery in civil lawsuits. It will provide answers to the most common questions about discovery asked by self-represented litigants, and identify several reference resources to assist with less-common questions.

Introduction to Written Discovery presentation

Workshop PowerPoint presentation

Workshop Forms

Paternity Judgment Workshop Materials

Divorce / Default Judgment Workshop Materials

Declaration of Disclosure Workshop Materials

Collaborative Workshops - How to Set Them Up, How to Make Them Work

Join an interactive discussion on how self help centers and facilitators can collaborate and utilize shared resources to create and conduct SRL workshops in order to provide better quality service. This panel will bring their unique insight, experience, and perspective, as well as provide tips including how to utilize Justice Corps interns and fellows in the process.  

Strategies for Presenting Mediation Opportunities to Self-Represented Litigants - What Works

This interactive program and will present effective strategies for informing and enabling SRL’s to take full advantage of available mediation options at each stage of small claims and limited civil litigation proceedings, including pre-filing, pre-hearing, day-of-hearing and post-trial. Learn how to assist SRL’s from different social-economic, cultural and educational backgrounds with mediation, and identify the types of disputes most resilient to mediation and explore strategies for overcoming resistance. 

SF ACCESS Center Small Claims Mediation Brochure

SF ACCESS Limited Civil Mediation Information

SF Small Claims Mediation Announcement

Alameda Civil Harassment Mediation Brochure

Alameda Small Claims Mediation Brochure

Lake / Mendocino Small Claims Mediation FAQ

Lake / Mendocino Small Claims Mediation Brochure

Lake / Mendocino Civil Harassment Mediation FAQ

Lake / Mendocino Civil Harassment Mediation Brochure

Lake Civil Harassment Mediation Brochure

Lake Small Claims Mediation Brochure

Contra Costa - Notice to Parties on Mediation

Orange County Mediation Posters

Interacting and Communicating with a Person with a Disability

This workshop will demonstrate how to effectively serve the self-represented with disabilities, including applicable laws and court rules governing accommodations requests. Learn about appropriate terminology and court forms, as well as tips for effective communication with persons with different disabilities. This workshop qualifies for MCLE: one hour Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession. 

Workshop Materials

Finding Forms - What Free Resources are Available at the Law Library

Learn about form resources publicly available to self-represented litigants at county public law libraries. Los Angeles County Law Library’s Finding Forms instructor will provide an overview of the most frequently used California print and electronic resources for forms. Discussion will focus on providing legal reference to SRL’s, including examples of typical SRL requests for forms. 

PowerPoint Presentation

Preparing Litigants for Hearings and Trials in Family Law Cases

This workshop will discuss how programs can help litigants prepare for hearings and trials including teaching how to introduce evidence, make offers of proof, conduct direct and cross-examination and act in the courtroom in family law cases. Examples of videos developed by self-help centers to explain these concepts will be previewed.  

Guidelines for Courtroom Behavior

Order to Show Cause Handout

How to Prepare Your Exhibits

Offer of Proof - Exhibit

Offer of Proof - Witness

Homeowners Association Law and Small Claims Court: A Mixed Bag

Recent changes to California’s Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act allow homeowners to sue in small claims court to recover assessments paid under protest to their HOA’s, but SRL’s are having mixed success. Learn how to help SRL’s navigate the complex laws governing assessment collections and court procedures, including statutes allowing homeowners to sue in small claims court. Special challenges for the Limited English Speaker or non-English speaking homeowner, and for frail seniors, along with strategies used by the Center for Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL) to overcome these obstacles will be covered.

PowerPoint Presentation

Elections Statutes

Operating Rules Statutes

Assessments Statutes

Records Statutes

Improving Civil Justice in Rural California: Issues, Recommendations and Best Practices

This program will highlight the findings of the Rural Task Force of the Commission on Access to Justice, published in their report Improving Civil Justice in Rural California. The report includes a survey of some of the ways that legal aid offices and self help centers are overcoming the challenges of rural areas, as well as demographic information about rural California and recommendations for addressing the inequities of rural legal services funding.

PowerPoint Presentation

The Volunteer Cycle - From Recruitment to Training and Retention

This Interactive group discussion will focus on the importance of volunteers, including how to identify potential sources for volunteers, recruitment strategies, training methods and best practices for volunteer retention. The panelists will offer unique perspectives based on their respective positions with court and legal services programs. 

PowerPoint Presentation

Volunteer Resource List

Volunteer Position Description Worksheet

FAQ About Volunteering at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County

Volunteer Confidentiality Agreement / Policies and Procedures

Retaining Student Volunteers

Transforming the Way We Communicate

Introduces techniques based on the Non-Violent Communication model developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, used throughout the world to effectively and directly communicate to prevent and resolve conflicts. By emphasizing clear and compassionate dialogue, this approach to communicating with others will enhance communicative skills and provide tools to help the public better understand the court system and services available to them, thereby enabling improved decision making capability. 

Handout from PowerPoint Presentation

Inventories for Nonviolent Communication

Friday, June 10

Non-English Speakers – How to Reach Them, How to Serve Them

Share in this interactive discussion on services provided to Limited English Proficient (LEP) court users, including cultural as well as linguistic barriers in accessing court services. The panelists bring a unique range of perspectives from both Northern and Southern California and from court and legal services based programs. Learn about providing service in the courthouse as well as holding clinics in targeted communities, and tips and strategies for service as well as outreach.

PowerPoint presentation

Use of a Certified Deaf Interpreter

Interpreting in Legal Settings

Grant Seeking? A Little Goes a Long Way in Technology

A report on the success of partnering opportunities designed to assist public librarians in serving SRL’s through small ($975) mini-grants arising out of the 2010 Conference on Public Libraries and Access to Justice, including success stories and a discussion of how small grant support can go a long way in increasing access to legal services for SRL’s with an emphasis on the wider impact for California. This session will also review the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program.

PowerPoint presentation

Public Libraries and Access to Justice

Setting Up a Family Law Settlement Program for Self-Represented Litigants

This program will demonstrate how Riverside Superior Court combined resources from self-help, family law facilitators, court operations, and the private bar to develop a successful family law Voluntary Settlement Program for self-represented litigants.  

PowerPoint presentation

Mandatory Settlement Conference Notice

Mandatory Settlement Conference Information

Settlement Conference Declaration

Spousal Support Declaration Instructions

Spousal Support Declaration

Mandatory Settlement Conference Checklist

Stipulation and Order re: Participation in Voluntary Settlement Conference

Addendum to Judgment - Custody/Visitation

Enforcing Civil and Small Claims Money Judgments

This workshop will cover the basics of enforcing a civil money judgment, including debtor exams, writs, wage garnishments, and levies, as well as preparation of the common forms, including writs and memorandums of post-judgment costs.

Workshop handout

Implementing an Effective Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic in the Courts

Learn how to start and run a Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic with an emphasis on basic procedures for intake, petition preparation and effective strategies for ensuring that SRL’s complete the process and obtain Letters of Conservatorship, based on the highly successful Bet Tzedek model that assists 700-800 SRL petitioners each year.

PowerPoint presentation

Conservatorship Clinic Intake Form

Are You Practicing Cultural Humility?

This session introduces the concept of cultural humility as we encounter a multicultural population seeking self-help services. Besides providing culturally competent services, cultural humility allows us to develop a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation, to redressing power imbalances between providers and consumers, and to developing mutually beneficial and non-paternalistic partnerships with the communities we serve. Rather than learning to identify and respond to sets of culturally specific traits, using cultural humility the service provider develops and practices a process of self-awareness and reflection.

Handout of PowerPoint presentation

Court Interpreters 101: Understanding the Role of Court Interpreters

Considers the various kinds of interpreters, the role of court interpreters, including interpreter ethics and protocols to be followed, and a brief explanation of the basic modes of interpretation, and the flow of an interpreting session when working with an interpreter. An interactive discussion will focus on misperceptions commonly held by other participants in the court process, from other providers to court users.

PowerPoint presentation

Guidelines for Preparing a Self-Represented Litigant

Information and Links

Creative Ways to Use Technology to Enhance Services and Efficiency in Self-Help Programs

This workshop will discuss self-help center approaches that use technology to assist self-represented litigants. These approaches include San Diego’s on-line appointment system for workshops, Placer’s use of NEMO/queue software for keeping track of litigant waiting for assistance, online assistance for litigants through the ICAN system operated by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, LawHelp Interactive programs available for use by staff and litigants at self-help centers and other locations, and the use of WebEx and Skype by self-help center staff to assist litigants who can’t come to a self-help center. 

PowerPoint presentation 1 of 3

PowerPoint presentation 2 of 3

PowerPoint presentation 3 of 3

Child Support Services – What Self-Represented Litigants Need to Know

Learn about the free family law services for SRL’s offered by the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), including assistance with establishing paternity and child support, modification, and enforcement of child and spousal support. Child support services can assist parents in their management of child support responsibilities, as well as utilize a range of enforcement remedies for non-compliance unique to DCSS.

PowerPoint presentation

Small Claims Legal Update

Find out about new laws, cases, Judicial Council rules and forms affecting small claims courts.

Update Packet

Defending Debt Collection Cases: To Answer or Not to Answer, That is the Question

This session will review the options for how to respond to lawsuits for common consumer debts so SRL’s can make an informed decision of whether to file a response. Learn why many collection actions lack legal merit, as well as best practices for responding should the SRL choose to do so, including raising crucial affirmative defenses, handling discovery, settlement and presenting in Court.

PowerPoint presentation

Affirmative Defense Contracts

Affirmative Defenses Debt Collection Activities

Are You Being Sued for Debt? What to do After You File an Answer

Debt Collection Case Timeline

The Contract Case

Debt Collection Cases: Deciding Whether to File an Answer

Resurgence Financial, LLC v. Pamela S. Chambers (from LexisNexis)

Article: Defense of Assigned Consumer Debts (from LexisNexis)

National Self-Represented Litigation Network – What’s Happening Throughout the U.S.?

The National Self-Represented Litigation Network brings together court, private and pro bono bar and legal aid practitioners in self-represented litigation and other key players including law and public librarians, researchers, and administrators to work on issues such development of best practices in self-help services and case management, promoting limited scope representation by attorneys, enhancing research on effective practices in handling cases with self-represented litigants, reaching out to public librarians, developing educational materials for judges, and sharing resources regarding language access. This is a chance to find out about new developments and ask questions about what is happening throughout the United States.

Taking Advantage of the Moment of Opportunity

Supreme Court Argument in Civil Gideon/Civil Contempt Case

Model Revised State APA Fails to Recognize Needs of the Self-Represented

Foreclosure and Court Simplification Model: South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Orders No Foreclosure Without Prior Opportunity to Participate in Modification Programs

Family Law Affordable Mediation Project: Sustainable, Low-Cost Divorce Mediation

This session will showcase the Family Law Affordable Mediation (FAM) Project utilizing volunteer mediators to provide low-cost services to SRL’s in family law. Modeled along the lines of a law clinic with one supervising attorney overseeing a team of volunteers, FAM method services are provided to a broad segment of the community, allowing SRL’s to reduce use of court resources while providing essential legal information to enable them to make informed decisions. 

FAM Handouts

Improving Language Access at Your Court

This session will showcase tools to identify languages spoken in your county, assess current procedures and solutions for serving limited English proficient court users, and highlight best practices in Language Access Plans. You will leave with tools to assess language access needs at your court, as well as resources to help meet those needs. 

Cool New Technology Ideas for Self-Help from Across the U.S.

A recent study found that 40% of low-income persons no longer have land line, relying entirely on cell phones. What do we do to be sure this large portion of the population has access to our self-help materials? How do we “go mobile” ourselves? This session will explore optimizing web materials for mobile browsers, using text messaging, and developing web apps. In addition it will explore the new venues for reaching out through social media.

AB 1058 Update - What’s New in the Child Support World?

Find out the latest on implementation of medical support and incarcerated parent’s legislation, developments with the child support guidelines and low income families, early intervention and outreach strategies and much, much more. A must for those who deal with child support issues.

Office of Child Support Enforcement - Action Transmittal AT-11-05: Revised Income Withholding for Support (IWO) Form

Senate Bill 580 / Chapter 103

Draft Form FL-334

Draft Form FL-335

Draft Form FL-686

2010 Guideline Study

JC Report - Changes to IV-D

Invitation to Comment - Address Verification

Income Withholding Form

Income Withholding Instruction Sheet

Income Withholding Requirements 

Small Claims Commissioners Roundtable and Panel Discussion

Discussion of hot issues in small claims – your opportunity to hear from experienced bench officers.  

Ensuring Access to the Courts for Self-Represented Litigants with Disabilities

This program will focus on the rights of SRL’s with disabilities, as well as practical solutions to ensuring equal access to legal services and the courts for those with disabilities. The session will cover basic legal obligations of the courts with respect to people with disabilities, as well as commonly encountered problems and practical solutions for SRL’s with disabilities. Issues to be covered include physical access barriers, communication access, service animals, accommodations (including using the court’s MC 410 form), among others, as well as requests for counsel or other assistance as an accommodation for SRL’s with disabilities. 

Ethical Issues in Handling Cases with Self-Represented Litigants

A review of the principles underlying California’s policy on what court self-help and other staff can and cannot do to assist self-represented litigants. This will include a review of the Guidelines for the Operation of Self-Help Centers in California and the principles behind them with experienced self-help center attorneys. The presentation will involve an initial presentation of the principles followed by discussion of the scenarios with the audience.  

PowerPoint presentation

Guidelines for the Operation of Self-Help Centers in California Trial Courts

Appendix C from Guidelines for the Operation of Family Law Information Centers and FLF Offices

Working with Spanish Speakers in the Mediation Process

Gain insight into how Spanish-speaking participants tend to view the mediation process, behave in mediation, and examine ways in which these participants may not get involved in the mediation process in the ways intended. Learn how to ensure the mediation process is more effective, culturally appropriate for Spanish speakers, allowing for meaningful participation, full understanding, and outcomes that meet everybody’s needs. 

PowerPoint presentation

San Francisco Superior Court Mediation Programs