Access to Justice: Lawyers Out of Reach for Most People.

 

As we have repeatedly said, it is always a good idea to hire a lawyer whenever you need to go to court. If you can afford it, that is. Unfortunately, the high cost of attorneys makes them un-affordable to most people who need legal help. The average hourly rate to hire an attorney in the United States is now between $372 and $899 dollars per hour!!! These prices have forced the vast majority of potential litigants to represent themselves in court.

How bad is it? Much worse than you think.  According to americanprogress.org:

Access to Justice

“In more than three-fourths of all civil trial cases in the United States, at least one litigant does not have a lawyer. . . And these are just the Americans who make it to court. Without access to legal advice, many are unaware of their legal rights and potential claims. Past estimates and more recent state-by-state studies suggest that about 80 percent of the civil legal needs of those living in poverty go unmet as well as 40 to 60 percent of the needs of middle-income Americans.”

That is an insane amount of legal needs going unmet! Although there are legal aid services available for low income individuals, the demand far outpaces the supply of such services. Furthermore, many people do not qualify because their income is too high, even though they still have nowhere near enough money to hire an attorney. For example, to qualify for assistance from Legal Services Corporation programs (the largest funding source for legal aid services), households must have an annual income at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines – in 2015 that means just $14,713 for an individual or $30,313 for a family of four. Even those who qualified for legal aid under these programs did not necessarily get it. LSC was only able to help half of all the people who both qualified and applied for their legal services. With no legal aid services available and the cost of a lawyer prohibitively expensive, what's a person to do when they need to file a lawsuit to protect their rights, or respond to a baseless lawsuit? Unfortunately, they have no choice but to represent themselves.

The good news is, this isn't nearly as hard as you think. We've already discussed the basics of filing a civil complaint, and our general civil litigation guide is available in both paperback and kindle formats. Too often, the legal world is full of technical jargon and Latin phrases that make it difficult for the untrained person to understand; even though the actual mechanics of a lawsuit are pretty straightforward.

Our litigation form packets and guides will make your lawsuit much easier to navigate. Although we cannot offer specific legal advice, using our forms will ensure that your pleadings are in the correct format and will show opposing counsel and the judge that you are taking your case seriously, even though you do not have an attorney. Holding yourself to the same standards as an attorney will likely prevent your case from getting dismissed on technical grounds. Lawyers and judges often (unfairly) assume that self-represented litigants are ignorant and unprepared for their case.

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Showing the court and opposing counsel that you understand the basics of a lawsuit and can properly format your documents will force them to treat you with the respect you deserve. Don't be discouraged because you cannot afford an attorney! You can represent yourself!

Lawsuitforms.org currently offers litigation form packets for the following states:

CaliforniaFloridaGeorgiaIllinoisNew YorkNorth CarolinaOhioOregonPennsylvania, and Texas.  

All our form packets include templates, samples, and instructions. Start representing yourself today!

More states and more forms will be added regularly. If your state isn't available, check back soon!

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