More than 80 percent of individuals who file family-law cases in Multnomah County do not have attorneys, which is reflective of an upswing in self-representation seen around the country. Some self represented litigants don’t think they can afford legal help, some don’t think they need it, and some just don’t trust lawyers, but few realize what a big project it is to navigate the legal system.
The process, with legal jargon, extensive paperwork, and foreign court procedures is daunting without a law background, but there are resources available for people who decide to go “pro se” (Latin for “for one’s own behalf”). Law librarians can help people navigate their way through the legal system, and many lawyers volunteer or give legal advice at a low cost. But, since so many people are self-represented, there are people taking steps to make the process more accessible and understandable.
- Paris Achen: Staff reporter at The Columbian
- Laura Orr: Washington County Law Librarian
- Judge Maureen McKnight: Circuit Court Judge, Multnomah County