Website lends legal advice |

Website lends legal advice

It just got easier to be your own lawyer.

Last week the Judicial Council of California debuted a 900-page Web site designed to instruct and educate the estimated 4.3 million people who represent themselves in family law and civil law cases each year.

About 50 percent of family and civil cases in the county involve people who act as their own lawyer, said El Dorado County Presiding Judge Suzanne Kingsbury.

Kingsbury said public defenders, or court-appointed attorneys, are only assigned in criminal or juvenile cases. She said often people choose to be their own lawyer for financial reasons or they choose not to hire someone because they don’t trust them or feel they can do a better job.

“The Web site does a number of things. It’s an educational tool in that it educates people about the law,” Kingsbury said. “And it has an instructive aspect in that it can assist people in locating the proper legal forms and informs them of available resources … such as low-cost legal services.”

Legal Services of Northern California already provides help for South Lake Tahoe residents who act as their own lawyers. Paralegals from the service sit down with people to instruct and educate but not to give out legal advice every Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m. on the second floor of El Dorado County Superior Court.

Kingsbury said civil cases include medical malpractice, auto accidents and service disputes. Family cases involve issues such as divorce, child custody and spousal support.

The Judicial Council of California Web site is at: The site is expected to offer a Spanish translation in about a year.

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