SRL Experience “the same” both sides of the border: Preliminary Results from the US SRL Study

SRL Experience “the same” both sides of the border: Preliminary Results from the US SRL Study

The first US research to focus on the experiences of self-represented litigants in American family courts – conducted by IAALS at the University of Denver – has just released its preliminary findings. “Cases Without Counsel” is modeled on the Canadian study and uses the same methodology: qualitative interviews with SRLs and court and other service providers. Julie and Sue were in Denver two weeks ago with the US research team to hear the initial findings discussed by their Advisory Board and comments from four SRLs, each representing one of the states included in the study (Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts and Tennessee).

The bottom line: there is a striking similarity between the preliminary results of the US study and the findings of the 2011-13 Canadian study. US SRLs also report that they are representing themselves primarily for financial reasons; they are desperately seeking legal assistance where they can find it; and they are working hard on their cases, but often feel overwhelmed, disadvantaged, discouraged, and even traumatized, as they navigate the legal system on their own.

The final report of the US study is expected in early 2016. For a sneak preview, Julie’s blog describes these preliminary parallel results–and what they mean for next steps.

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