ARCHIVED: Listserv to Cover Pro Se Users in Law Libraries

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January 16, 2003

Many law libraries are currently overwhelmed by the number of pro pers (pro ses in some states) handling their own cases, and the trend shows no sign of abating. Find out how law libraries are handling pro se patrons by signing up for the Professional Development Program listserv discussion Pro Pers/Pro Ses in the Law Library: Are You Prepared? from Feb. 3-7.

Moderated by Amy Hale, reference librarian at the San Diego Public Law Library, the discussion will cover how well law libraries are equipped to deal with users that have no legal education or background but want to represent themselves in court. Participants will discuss the programs available to help pro se users navigate the maze of the court system, how to assist pro pers without sacrificing service to other customers, and other related issues.

Here is a list of suggested readings to prepare for the discussion:

  • Joyce Alcantara, “Pro Per Procedure,” California Lawyer, Sept. 1991, at 27.
  • Barrie Althoff, “Ethical Considerations for Lawyers and Judges When Dealing with Unrepresented Persons,” 54 Washington State Bar News, at 46 (2000).
  • Amy Bentley, “Program Aims to Make Courts More Accessible to Pro Pers,” 110 n229 The Los Angeles Daily Journal, Nov. 25, 1997, at p2.
    Discusses Pro Per Information Center in California.
  • L. Karl Branting, “An Advisory System for Pro Se Protection Order Applicants,” 14 i3 International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 357 (Nov. 2000).
  • Stephanie Francis Cahill, “And Justice for All,” 112 i 74 The Los Angeles Daily Journal pS12 (April 19, 1999).
  • Robert M. Daniszewski, “Coping with the Pro Se Litigant,” New Hampshire Bar Journal March 1995, at 46.
    Discusses the reasons pro se litigants have risen and suggests solutions.
  • Anita Davis, “A Pro Se Program That is Also ‘Pro’ Judges, Lawyers, and the Public,” 63 i9 Texas Bar Journal 896 (Oct. 2000).
  • Elyse Fox, “Liability in the Provision of Information: Contractual and Tort Liability of Librarians (including Law Librarians) and Information Brokers,” 6 n3 Legal Information Management Reporter (Summer 1994).
  • Marc M. Friedman, “The Trials of a ‘Pro Per’ Defendant,” 11 n4 Whittier Law Review 909, (Winter 1990) (Case Note).
  • John Gibeaut, “Turning Pro Se; The Number of Unrepresented Litigants is Growing, but Few Courts Have Developed Policies in Response,” 85 ABA Journal, Jan. 1999, at 28.
  • Jona Goldschmidt et al., Meeting the Challenge of Pro Se Litigation: A Report and Guidebook for Judges and Court Managers (1998).
    This excellent resource addresses pro se litigation in the courts, what is expected of court personnel and judges, and includes some statistics. Excellent footnotes and bibliography. This study was conducted by the State Justice Institute and is published by the American Judicature Society, 180 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60601-7401, (312) 558-6900, ISBN 938870-81-5
  • Jona Goldschmidt, “How Are Courts Handling Pro Se Litigants?,” 82 n1 Judicature, July-August 1998, at 13.
  • John M. Greacen, “ ‘No Legal Advice from Court Personnel’: What Does that Mean?,” The Judges’Journal, at 10 (Winter 1995).
  • Paul D. Healey, “In Search of the Delicate Balance: Legal and Ethical Questions in Assisting the Pro Se Patron,” 90 n2 Law Library Journal 129 (Spring 1998).
    Details the ethical and legal problems facing the law librarian who deals with pro se people. Can also be applied to court personnel.
  • Paul D. Healey, “Chicken Little at The Reference Desk: The Myth of Librarian Liability,” 87 n3 Law Library Journal 515, (Summer 1995).
    An excellent article noting that no law librarian has ever been sued for unauthorized practice of law.
  • Mark Mackler and Michael Saint-Onge, “The Sky May Yet Fall on Firm Librarians: A Reply to ‘Chicken Little at the Reference Desk,’” 88 n3 Law Library Journal, 456 (Summer 1996).
    A rebuttal to Healey’s “Chicken Little” article, which discusses the liability of a law librarian in a law firm.
  • Suzanne Northington, “Pro Per Behavior: Filings in Pro Per are Up -- Way Up -- in Family Court,” 14 n5 California Lawyer, May 1994, at 29.
  • Proceedings of the Conference on the Delivery of Legal Services to Low-Income Persons: Professional and Ethical Issues, “Recommendations of the Conference on the Delivery of Legal Services to Low-Income Persons,” 67 i5 Fordham Law Review 1751 (April 1999). (Conference on the Delivery of Legal Services to Low-Income Persons: Professional and Ethical Issues). The entire issue deals with pro se representation. This particular article deals with who should be doing what in order to help. It discusses volunteer and pro bono legal clinics, partnering between legal and nonlegal entities. This article also sets forth assessment standards for legal help programs.

To sign up for this listserv discussion, go to and click in the mailbox on the right side of the page.

This discussion will address the AALL Core Competencies and Special Competencies 3 on Reference, Research, and Client Services and 6 on Teaching.