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Highlights from the Capital-PD D4 News

Posted by Texas Paralegal Division Blogger at blog@txpd.org on October 28, 2016

Avoiding the Legal Bermuda Triangle

A Collaboration between the Travis County District Clerk and Law Library

 Author: Danikae Doetsch, Travis County District Clerk Family Law Division Director

Contributors:  Velva Price, Travis County District Clerk and Lisa Rush, Travis County Law Library Manager

Most people in Travis County, Texas, don’t realize it but there is a legal “Bermuda Triangle” in downtown Austin. It is located in the one block that separates the civil courthouse from the Law Library.  And somehow, someway, it causes the information both offices give to self-represented litigants (SRLs) to just vanish as they travel between the two buildings. The result: The correct information and even paperwork given in one office gets forgotten and/or misplaced by the time the SRL crosses the street to the other office.

The Travis County solution? The Travis County District Clerk’s office and Law Library partner to co-locate services in the Law Library. A deputy district clerk has an office and all the equipment she/he needs in the Law Library.

This project will try to bridge the information gap and reduce the need for SRLs to move between the two offices multiple times to file a divorce or civil lawsuit, obtain a name change, file various legal documents, and ask questions about a pending matter. Instead, reference librarians direct the litigant 20 feet to the deputy clerk to file or discuss the paperwork. Throughout the day, the librarians can ask the deputy district clerk questions and verify their own understanding of clerk procedures.

With collaborative support and leadership between the Travis County District Clerk’s Office and the Law Library management, the Legal Bermuda Triangle will be eliminated and a new, seamless environment will be created. An additional benefit will be a deeper understanding between the District Clerk and Law Library staff of each other’s services, needs, and procedures.

PD Black and WhiteMost importantly, though, eliminating the Legal Bermuda Triangle helps to create an environment that enhances access to justice.

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