Last year Ottawa County joined Kent, Washtenaw, and Berrien counties in offering a legal self-help center. A year later, the center has served over 3,000 court users. As in the other counties, Ottawa has found that the center benefits the functioning of the court as a whole and thus benefits all litigants. Ottawa County Circuit Court Administrator Kevin Bowling told the Grand Haven Tribune that the center has cut down on hearings. "The need to frequently reschedule cases due to missing paperwork and incomplete preparation has a significant impact on time and expense required to resolve a case," Bowling said.
The value of well-conceived and appropriate services for the self-represented was a key finding in the recommendations of both the Judicial Crossroads Task Force and the Solutions on the Self-Represented (SOS) Task Force. The option for limited representation is also receiving increased attention. A somewhat surprising but reassuring finding from the experience of a mature initiative on limited self-representation in Massachusetts is that the limited representation option can increase business for lawyers as it opens out legal services to a wider population.