Category: News & Updates

KCLL Wins National Award for Outreach

The Workshops

We launched Civil Lawsuits Without Tears in March of 2018. It was the first workshop in our then new Self-Represented Litigants (SRL) Workshop series. That series now includes three civil procedure workshops, four family law workshops, a small business law workshop and a power of attorney workshop. Plans for a landlord/tenant workshop are in the works.

When we made that first launch we were confident we had created a new, practical, and sustainable mechanism for helping the self-represented litigants we work with become better prepared for their day in court. It was “new” for several reasons. It leveraged partnerships with volunteers from the local bar and the LLLT community, local public libraries like SPL and KCLS, and other community centers. It married face-to-face classroom instruction with follow-up content support on our website. It brought instruction out to where the self-represented litigants live and work in surroundings they are more familiar with. It was “practical” because KCLL staff worked closely with our volunteer instructors to choose content that was focused on the specific areas of civil procedure that most often confound self-represented litigants. It was “sustainable” because the load or weight of content development, instruction, and marketing was spread across all partners.

We had also hoped that workshop attendees would find the content understandable and immediately useful; that they would appreciate being able to attend the workshops in the local libraries or community centers they were already familiar with, and that access to the blank forms and research links on our custom SRL workshop website would continue to provide support down the litigation road.

To date, over 400 self-represented litigants have attended at least one of the workshops. We are hard at work searching for additional volunteer attorneys to help us develop and present relevant content and have plans for expanding the number of public library branches at which the workshops are hosted. Feedback from attendees has been very positive and they often return to KCLL for further research help.

The Award

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nation-wide professional association for law librarians who practice in pubic, academic and private firm law libraries. AALL sponsors a number of juried awards that recognize outstanding achievement in various aspects of law library management and services. This year, AALL added a new award called the Excellence in Community Engagement Award. This award focuses on community engagement and public relations and was created to “ …recognize and acknowledge outstanding contributions achieved by the Association’s members in raising the visibility of the profession and its Association.” In February of this year, LeighAnne Thompson and Stephanie Wilson from the Seattle University School of Law Library nominated our Self-Represented Litigants Workshop series. In March, we were overjoyed to receive this communication from Sally Holterhoff, chair of AALL’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award Jury:

“…your library’s Self-Represented Litigant (SRL) Workshops have been selected as one of two recipients of an inaugural AALL Excellence in Community Engagement Award. Congratulations on this honor. Our jury felt that your project does an outstanding job of reaching people in your community at their point of need with practical information. With these workshops, you are involving the legal and library communities in partnering to address the information needs of self-represented litigants and to help them successfully navigate the legal system.”

Many Thanks

We are very grateful to our SRL workshop partners, without whose help the workshop series would not have been possible. KCLL is indebted to the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to the workshop series and is excited to continue the collaboration to support and improve the education of self-represented litigants in King County:

  • Jeff Cowan, Esq.
  • Anthony Gibbs of Moceri Law Group, PLLC
  • McKean Evans of Pivotal Law Group
  • David Witus, Esq.
  • Jennifer Ortega of Legal Technician Division, PLLC
  • Sarah Bove of Legal Technician Division, PLLC
  • The staffs at the Central and Shoreline branches of the Seattle Public Library System
  • The staffs at the Kent and Burien branches of the King County Library System
  • The staff at the U Heights Community Center

If you are interested in learning more about our workshops – or the possibility of facilitating them, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us at services@kcll.org or (206) 477-1305.

Preparing for Your Neighborhood Clinic Visit

The King County Bar Association, sponsor of the Neighborhood Legal Clinics, has posted a useful checklist for preparing to attend a session at one of their legal clinics.  To make the best use of your time please:

1. Decide on the desired outcome or goal.
2. Schedule an appointment at a Neighborhood Legal Clinic.
3. Write a list of specific questions for the attorney.
4. Bring to the clinic appointment:

–Agreements or contracts (signed or proposed)
–Written rules or policies
–Court orders
–Court papers served on you or that you filed with the court
–All letters or emails to and from person or business with whom you have the disagreement
–Specific paperwork related to the case. For example, employee handbook, parenting plan, child support order, protection order, lease, rental agreement

5. Organize any paperwork from most recent on the top to oldest at the bottom.
6. Identify all deadlines.
7. Tell the legal clinic volunteer about these deadlines.

Remember you only have 30 minutes. Be prepared to tell the history of the legal issue to the legal clinic volunteer.

If your legal issue is vacating your criminal record please bring your Washington Access to Criminal History report.

Responding to a Petition for Visits

The Northwest Justice Project, via its self-help site WashingtonLawHelp.org, has released a new guide to help custodial parents respond to a petition from a third-party–such as a grandparent or another relative–for visitation rights.  It’s titled You Have Been Served with a Petition for Visits and includes a complete set of instructions and forms.  Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to read through the information in two related NJP guides: Which Court can Enter Custody Orders? Questions and Answers about Jurisdiction –which will help you understand how to determine if a Washington court has the right to consider a petition for visitation–and Washington’s New Non-Parent Visitation Rights –which provides a general overview of our State’s Non-Parent Visitation Rights law.

Debt Collection Laws in Washington Make It Easy for Collectors

An in-depth article in the Seattle Times takes a look the laws and rules that permit collections firms to make life painful for debtors in Washington State.  With the addition of court-sanctioned fees and the highest post-judgment interest rates in the county, lawmakers are finally taking another look the industry.

The Library hosts a Debt Defense Clinic that is put on by the Northwest Justice Project.

A lot of helpful information can also be found on the WashingtonLawHelp.org website.

Public Defenders to Help Vacating Eligible Convictions

The King County Office of Public Defense has announced a new initiative to help people remove eligible convictions from their record.  Eligibility depends on the type of conviction (many misdemeanors and non-violent Class B & Class C felonies) as well as the amount of time that has passed since the conviction – among other things.

 

The Seattle Times published a good article on the announcement, which can be found HERE.

Information on the Office of Public Defense can be found HERE.

WSBA Members To Get Access to Fastcase!

Beginning in “early 2019,” the Washington State Bar Association is going to give all active members access to Fastcase as part of their bar membership.  Once it goes live, bar members will have full access to their extensive collection of caselaw, statutes, regulations, court rules, and other materials.  The arrangement will allow unlimited research and includes webinar training and customer support from Fastcase reference attorneys.  You can read the full press release HERE.

Washington State Assists Furloughed Federal Employees

The Washington State Employment Security Department has announced that Federal workers furloughed due to the partial shutdown of the Federal government may apply for unemployment benefits.  Interested workers can apply online or by phone at 800-318-6022.  They will need to provide verification of their wages in the event ESD cannot reach their agencies.  For more information, visit ESD’s web site.

How to Nullify Your Property’s Discriminatory Covenants

Many Seattle homeowners are unaware that their property may have restrictive covenants (dictating what types of people can own the property) attached to it that are based on outdated, unenforceable and racist policies from the past.  But beginning January 1st of 2019, homeowners can ask the King County Recorder’s Office to modify any of their deeds that contain such language.  Read the Seattle Times article HERE.

IdentityTheft.gov Helps You Recover from Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission’s online resource, IdentityTheft.gov, can help you recover from identity theft.  The site uses a three-step process to gather information about your situation, create a recovery plan for immediate action and follow-up steps and, if you choose to create a personal account, to help you track the steps you’ve taken and update your recovery plan as you proceed.  It provides sample letters and checklists.  It also includes custom checklists for specific types of accounts that are often the target of identify thieves and special forms for situations like tax, medical and child identity theft.  The recommended routine is to follow the site’s interview process to produce a custom recovery plan but you can also jump directly to a complete list of all recovery steps contained within the site.  It includes numerous independent links related to identity theft and identity protection, including links to information about the warning signs of identify theft, what your rights are in an identity theft situation and how to contact credit bureaus.