There are many ways to have a good year. Each offers a reason to say ‘thank you’.
A year that flies by effortlessly is a good year. A year that builds your skills and grows your value is a good year.
A year that allows you to serve others and see their progress is a good year.
A year you survive is a good year.
The end of a year is always a time to collect oneself, reflect on some lessons, and set sail for the year ahead. Courtroom5 had a good year in all those ways, and we are thankful.
Our mission at Courtroom5 is to produce effective pro se litigants. As 2017 closes, I want to reflect on all we’ve accomplished toward that mission this year.
- We rebranded as Courtroom5. (Burlington Avenue is still our government name.)
- We created a free 5-part litigation course for people in court without a lawyer, designed to help self-represented litigants avoid some of the most common mistakes.
- We grew some awesome new features on our platform, including evidence collection, record maintenance, tabular display of all data, a legal research tool designed to support the search patterns of pro se litigants (shoutout to Ravel and CourtListener), a task calendar with email and in-app reminders — everything just works great!
- We created and delivered several member-only workshops on various litigation topics and grew a busy pro se community.
- We developed three new courses on basic litigation skills, legal research and civil procedure.
Best of all, our members were extremely generous in their praise for our platform this year. We’ve been called everything from a lifesaver to a weapon for David against Goliath. That’s the reason we get to work early and call it quits late each day.
We are proud to have been able to help so many people this year. It’s especially gratifying when you realize the alternative for many is to walk away from the court system and default on a claim.
Let me tell you who should not be celebrating this year: the legal profession. For years, the industry has crowed about its access-to-justice efforts.
But despite all the money and attention to the problem, the trends are getting worse. A recent report on Utah courts is startling:
In 2015, 98 percent of the 67,510 debt collection cases involved one party with an attorney and one party without an attorney. Debt collectors have representation 100 percent of the time; it is the debtors who go unrepresented…
On average, debtors throughout the state default on more than 65 percent of debt collection cases. The default rate on all cases averages 50 percent. Most of the cases in default in Utah are debt collection cases.
This. Isn’t. Normal. And yet it is the norm, or becoming the norm, in many parts of the United States today. This horrible state of affairs is intolerable in a so-called free country, especially when you consider that the failure of civil justice greases the skids to incarceration.
The fact that the problem has gotten so bad suggests the legal profession can’t fix it. We the people have to fix this mess ourselves. We’ve got to ensure access to justice for ourselves.
In that vein, Courtroom5 is rolling out a new feature in the coming days, something we’ve been working on for a long time. It’s a new level of automation and intelligence that will go a long way toward ensuring our members are effective in their cases every step of the way.
We are committed to ensuring that everyone dragged into court by a lawyer sees an alternative to defaulting on the claim. That goal is in sight, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve the cause of justice in this way.
So a hearty Thank You! to our members, our small staff, our partners and advisors. We couldn’t do any of this without your support and good wishes.
Commercial break: If you’re still on the fence about a Courtroom5 membership, I urge you to sign up now. The current price is likely the lowest it’s ever going to be, and it won’t last long.
Happy New Year from all of us at Courtroom5! Be inspired, get involved and join us as we carry these commitments forward in 2018.