Technology and Self-Help Centers in State Court Systems. Assessing the Need and Offering Solutions

This white paper examines the effectiveness of self-help tools offered by state court systems in response to the pandemic and describes the solutions CiviLaw.Tech offers to create a more robust technological response to the issues litigants face when representing themselves in court.


COVID-19 and the subsequent measures to limit its spread have had a disruptive effect on all aspects of our lives, including access to legal services and court operations. It strained an already overwrought CJ system, highlighting issues with case backlogs, evidence-sharing, and file storage.

At the same time, COVID-19 was a catalyst for the court to accelerate the deployment of digital solutions, such as virtual hearings, electronic filing for attorneys, and in some states, the implementation of a centralized case management system. Thanks to grants from the state's Federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, courts were able to respond to the immediate challenges caused by the pandemic.

Still, the limitations of in-person access to resources (i.e. self-help centers, court libraries, and court clerks) and the dependence on paper-based processes continue to exacerbate the lack of access to legal services for self-help litigants, especially low-income citizens and those with time-sensitive matters, such as emergency protection orders.

The impact of the last several years offers opportunities. This report reviews the varied ways that state court systems have attempted to meet the needs of the public. Some can be leveraged as best practices, while others highlight barriers that pose risks to achieving the optimum outcome of greater access to justice.

Finally, this report outlines the solutions that CiviLaw.Tech can offer court systems, with highlights of systems already being used in several courts throughout the country.