November 15, 2017

Austin Bar Launches Videos for Attorney Volunteers Assisting at Self-Represented Litigant Project

Thanks to a $10,000 grant provided by the Texas Bar Foundation, the Austin Bar Association has produced a series of training videos to equip volunteer attorneys to better assist self-represented litigants at the Travis County Law Library and Self Help Center.

Attorneys seeking volunteer opportunities can click on “Volunteer” under the “For Attorneys” tab on the homepage of the Austin Bar website at austinbar.org. There, they will see a description of the Austin Bar’s Self-Represented Litigant Project with a link to click for more information.  This link leads to an overview video describing the Project, along with another video containing instructions on how to volunteer. Attorneys who fill out the online volunteer sign-up form are given a password to access three specific training videos showing how to help with the most commonly seen cases—simple divorce, name change, and occupational drivers licenses.  CLICK HERE to view page with videos.

The purpose of the videos is to create a more streamlined training program for the attorney volunteers.  By viewing the videos in advance, the attorneys will know how to assist someone through the uncontested docket and how to fill out the forms required for these simple cases. They will walk in the door knowing what to expect and how to help the greatest number of people. The trained volunteers can then take the majority of the more common cases, allowing the managing attorney and the reference attorneys to spend more time with patrons who have more complicated legal issues requiring more time to assist.  The quality and efficiency of legal aid provided to all will be greatly increased.

The courts have seen a dramatic rise in self-represented litigants in recent years as well as an increase in family law cases due to the surge in Travis County’s population.  The Austin Bar recognized these trends and created the Self Represented Litigant Project in 2015 so the citizens of Travis County could have access to the best possible legal representation for resolving their legal issues quickly and efficiently, regardless of income.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $15 million in grants to law-related programs.  Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation.