Informally begun in 2001 and formalized in 2006, the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) works to ensure that the challenges of serving the self-represented are viewed as critical issues to be addressed at all levels of the justice system. Guided by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), participant organizations provide advice and support for Network projects. The Network operates through a number of Working Groups, who, with support and leadership from the SRLN Coordinator and Executive Committee, have produced numerous products for use by the justice system as a whole.
The SRLN works to keep the issues facing self-represented litigants, and particularly those who are poor, on the national justice agenda by:
- facilitating networking among self-help providers, legal services and courts by providing support to them on issues and challenges faced in serving the self-represented;
- acting as a resource by developing innovative solutions and policies that preserve, promote and enhance access to justice for the self-represented;
- supporting demonstration projects that can be modeled, tested, and evaluated;
- creating materials and training programs that can be adopted by justice system partners and implemented by them on an on-going basis, using "train the trainer" techniques and other methods that enhance their on-going utility.
This site is the communications hub for Working Groups, the Advisory Committee and those who have an interest in the operational side of the SRLN. Please visit our sister site selfhelpsupport.org to access the many resources available to support the work of the justice community.
Katherine Alteneder, SRLN Coordinator
Katherine Alteneder has a background in legal services, the courts and private practice. After clerking for a trial court judge, Katherine worked at Alaska Legal Services Corporation, initially handling DV matters and later as the Aging Grant Coordinator. In 2001, Katherine joined the Alaska Court System to develop the statewide Family Law Self-Help Center, which resulted in the nation's first virtual self-help center. Operating solely through telephone and Internet capabilities, the Center was also one of the early TIG grantees. In 2008, Katherine moved to private practice, establishing a successful unbundled practice supporting self-represented litigants in Alaska, and helped to create the first (and currently only) Unbundled Law Section of a state bar. Katherine has been an active member of the Network since 2002, participating in Working Groups, writing and presenting at conferences. Katherine is re-locating to the D.C. area in the Spring.
Richard Zorza, SRLN Coordinator Emeritus
John Greacen, Greacen Associates, LLC
John Greacen, currently a principal of Greacen Associates, LLC, wrote the seminal article on the difference between legal information and legal advice for court staff in 1995 and continues to publish regularly on the topic. He has evaluated programs to assist self-represented litigants in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, and Virginia. He was consultant to Florida and Utah judicial branch committees developing strategic plans for providing assistance to self-represented litigants. He has done research on communications in court hearings involving two self-represented litigants. He was editor of the California Benchbook on Self-Represented Litigants and author of the benchbook chapter on judicial ethics. He has made educational presentations on dealing with self-represented litigants in many states.
Bonnie Hough, California Administrative Office of the Courts
Bonnie Hough is a managing attorney for the California Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The focus of her work is helping courts meet the needs of self-represented litigants. Her unit coordinates the California Courts Self-Help Website, which provides over 4,000 pages of legal and procedural information and referrals in English and Spanish. She oversees five grant programs providing funding for legal services and court-based self-help programs. She oversees development of family law forms, rules and procedures, and document-assembly programs. Before joining the AOC, she was in private practice in family law and ran a legal services agency.
Mark O'Brien, Pro Bono Net
Mark O'Brien is the co-founder and Executive Director of Pro Bono Net. Prior to starting Pro Bono Net, Mark was the pro bono coordinator at Davis Polk and Wardwell from 1992 to 1999. During his tenure, both Mark and the firm won numerous awards for contributions to pro bono issues. He has served on various New York State and City bar committees dealing with pro bono and legal services issues, and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the University of Pennsylvania Law School Public Service Program. He lives in New York City.
Laurie Zelon, California Court of Appeal
Justice Zelon has served as an associate justice of the California Court of Appeal since 2003.
She was born in Durham, North Carolina. She received her B.A. degree in 1974 from Cornell University and her J.D. degree in 1977 from Harvard Law School. During the twenty-three years that preceded her appointment to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2000, Justice Zelon had an active litigation practice, involving scientific and technical issues, fiduciary obligations, and other complex commercial disputes.
Justice Zelon is a past President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She is a past member of its Board of Trustees, and past Chair of its Federal Courts Committee, its Judiciary Committee, its Access to Justice Committee, and its subsection on Real Estate Litigation. She has been active since her admission to practice in the American Bar Association and has served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Lawyers' Public Service Responsibility, as a member of the Consortium on Law and the Public, and as Chair of its national Law Firm Pro Bono Project. From 1994 to 1997, she was Chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants.
In California, Justice Zelon has been a long-time member and served as Chair of the California Commission on Access to Justice. She is an active member of several statewide judicial committees addressing administration of justice issues. She has written articles and spoken at educational programs for judges and lawyers concerning pro bono, public service, legal ethics and legal education.
She was the 1993 Recipient of the William Reece Smith, Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award, the 1999 Recipient of the Charles Dorsey Award from the National Legal Aid & Defenders Association, and the 2000 recipient of the Loren Miller Legal Services Award from the State Bar of California. She was the first recipient, in February 2000, of the Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award, given by the Pro Bono Institute of Washington, D.C.
Richard Zorza is the founding coordinator of the Self-Represented Litigation Network and is transitioning to the position of SRLN Coordinator Emeritus. He is an attorney and independent consultant who has worked for the past 25 years on issues of access to justice, technology, and legal ethics. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Richard is a former public defender, legal services attorney, and justice technology designer. His book, The Self-Help Friendly Court: Designed from the Ground Up to Work for People Without Lawyers, was published by the National Center for State Courts in 2002. Technology projects have included the Midtown Community Court (winner for a Windows World Open Award). Richard has published extensively on access for self-represented litigants including Some First Thoughts On Court Simplification: The Key To Civil Access And Justice Transformation, 61 Drake L. Rev. 645 (2013) and The Access to Justice "Sorting Hat" -- Towards a System of Triage and Intake that Maximizes Access and Outcomes, 89 Denv. U. L. Rev. 859 (2012). Richard also maintains an incisive blog at accesstojustice.net.
Material produced by the Self Represented Litigation Network will include the following notice:
Copyright National Center for State Courts. 200x. Developed by the Self Represented Litigation Network. For reprint authorization policy go to www.srln.org/reprint. Any opinions expressed in the document are not necessarily those of the National Center for State Courts or of any members of the Self Represented Litigation Network. (The last sentence will only appear in substantive work.)
The following is the reprint policy that governs material in which the above notice appears:
This material may be reproduced in whole or in part on a non-commercial basis by governmental and nonprofit entities engaged in access to justice activities, provided that the reproduced material includes attribution, and contains in its entirety the copyright, disclaimer and reprint authorization website reference that appears in the document, and provide moreover that prior notice of such usage is sent by e-mail to:
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