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Authors

Liz Reppe

Abstract

This article is part of the 2018 Dickinson Law Review Symposium entitled “Access to Justice: Innovations and Challenges in Providing Assistance to Pro Se Litigants.” The author is the state law librarian for Minnesota who reports to the Minnesota Supreme Court. This article surveys various resources that Minnesota provides to unrepresented clients, including the website resources found here: https://perma.cc/R2DP-K9YB. The bulk of the article, however, focuses on Minnesota’s innovative in-person “Appeals Self-Help Clinics.” See https://perma.cc/Y2VN-H2L3.

The article’s discussion of Minnesota’s Appeals Self-Help Clinics begins by highlighting some of the factors that provided the impetus for the development of these clinics. For example, in 2017, almost one quarter of the appeals filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals included at least one party who was unrepresented. Some areas of law had a much higher percentage of unrepresented parties, such as family law, where the rate was 37 percent and unemployment appeals, where 92 percent of cases had an unrepresented or pro se party.

This article describes the philosophy behind Minnesota’s Appeals Self-Help Clinics, the preparatory steps required before Minnesota’s State Library launched this program, the type of help these clinics provide to appellant litigants, the recruitment process for pro bono lawyers who staff the clinics, as well as details about the operation of the monthly in-person Appeals Self-Help Clinics. It also discusses the various documents and guidelines the clinic uses. See https://perma.cc/G3LZ-LQDS and https://perma.cc/6LWW-HB4F. In short, this article should be of interest not only to academics and others who study how our court systems have responded to large numbers of pro se clients and the resulting access to justice issues, but to jurisdictions that would like a detailed roadmap. The information in this article will help interested jurisdictions deliver better access to justice for unrepresented litigants, while simultaneously making the appellate process more efficient for judges, the court system, and represented litigants.

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