Unrepresented Litigants' Bill of Rights for New York City Family Court

Client: Legal Information for Families Today
Faculty: Ana Oliveira, Dennis Smith
Team: Diana Benton, Rachael Goldstein, Jessica Harris, Amalea Smirniotopoulos
Year: 2011
Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) provides support and services to litigants navigating the Family Court system with­out an attorney. LIFT recognized that unrepresented litigants often do not understand their basic rights, creating a significant obstacle to their success in court. The Capstone team helped LIFT develop the first Unrepresented Litigants' Bill of Rights and provided recommenda­tions for the implementation and dissemi­nation of the document. Using surveys, interviews, and focus groups with unrep­resented litigants and court staff, the Capstone team researched how much liti­gants know about their rights, and whether the Litigants' Bill of Rights could be used in Family Court. The Bill of Rights and final report will help LIFT improve its services in Family Court and provide rec­ommendations for how to improve the overall court process.