Today I stumbled over a new online resource for the Spokane County Courts. Using the document viewer online, the docket listing the documents filed in the matter and upcoming/past court dates can be accessed by searching a party’s name or case number. For example, here is the link to look up a Superior Court Case by name.
Through various committees and individual efforts, the Spokane County Bar is providing ongoing input to the local courts to encourage movement towards electronic filing and online document access. One of the biggest challenges is protecting the case documents filed under seal (identifying information, medical records, etc.) . From the sudden appearance of this new method of local case searches, it appears the groundwork is in place for eventual online access. Online access to the actual case documents in the future will be a huge resource not only for attorneys, but for self-represented litigants.
The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue. Edward R. Murrow
About 75% of the individuals I meet with for the first time cannot afford to hire an attorney full time. Most of these folks are not poverty level and do not qualify for volunteer legal aid. Similarly, they do not have a few thousand dollars in a shoebox to hand over for their legal representation.
Like most of my colleagues, I shied away from being hired piecemeal. Why? Well, it simply doesn’t come naturally to an attorney to let go of something once it is started. Also from an ethical standpoint, attorneys hesitate to do partial work and trust that something will not go terribly wrong down the road once the case is out of the attorney’s hands.
Well, from a practical perspective, things can go terribly wrong down the road whether or not an attorney is controlling every aspect of the case presentation. On the flip side, things can also go marvelously well whether or not an attorney is controlling every aspect of the case presentation.
The vast majority of folks who come to see me simply want some help – any help. I accept on one or two pro bono cases a year on an ongoing basis but I wish I could offer more free services. As a result, quite a few of my initial consultations end with hopeless feelings on both sides. I cannot help the person without watching my practice go into deep crimson red and the potential client has already called ten other attorneys and gotten the same answer – no dice without a few thousand up front.
Meanwhile, our court system is hopelessly clogged with a high number of self-represented individuals in the same boat. Court staff is strained beyond capacity trying to direct folks in the right direction without improperly giving legal advice. The judges and commissioners are frustrated by their own inability to help because a judicial officer cannot give legal advice or otherwise “assist” to a self-represented individual.
And so, without further ado, I’ve kicked my ego aside and I am happy to offer unbundled services starting now.
There are a number of great resources online for researching limited-scope and unbundled services. Here are a few of my favorites:
Not all who wander are lost.
As Autumn approaches (gasp – can you believe it) Street Law, put on by the Center for Justice and the Spokane County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer Program, is ending soon. I urge Spokanites to take advantage of Street Law before it’s final weekend on September 5th. Here’s a snippet from the Center for Justice Website:
“Street Law Saturdays: The popular free legal advice service returns to Riverfront Park in late May (May 23rd thru September 5th, except for Hoopfest weekend, June 27th). We gather on the South Howard Street Bridge, just north of the Carousel, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., every Saturday.”
Happening right now.
The Center for Justice and the Spokane County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer Program sponsors Street Law every year in Riverfront Park. Groups of attorneys sit in the park for four hours each Saturday during the summer just doling out free legal help to all that approach them.
Look for them at the South Howard Street Bridge, just north of the Carousel, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., every Saturday until Labor Day weekend.