Nebraska’s State Court System to Pilot Court-Based Self-Help Centers

Nebraska’s State Court System to Pilot Court-Based Self-Help Centers

Lincoln, NE — A new court-based Self-Help Center will be established at the Douglas County courthouse alongside a statewide virtual self-help process with the assistance of a $75,000 grant awarded to the Nebraska Administrative Office of the Courts and Probation by the State Justice Institute. The Omaha pilot project aims to lay the foundation for in-person and virtual court self-help services throughout the state. Whether accessed virtually or in person, individuals representing themselves in Nebraska’s state courts will find improved assistance with court processes, procedures, and filings.

The increasing number of self-represented litigants remains a focus area for the Nebraska court system. Anecdotal evidence from judges and court staff statewide indicates that self-represented court users continue to struggle with navigating the court system’s complex processes.

Judge Stephanie Hansen noted, “The law promises ‘equal justice’ in the courts.  However, many self-represented litigants feel frustrated with the legal process because they are unaware of all the legal practices and procedures required.  The self-help center is designed to provide guidance and education to those who represent themselves as they navigate legal filings, court appearances, and presenting evidence. Both litigants and the courts benefit when the process is understood, and expectations are met.”

The data gathered from the Self-Help Center Pilot will be used to review and develop user-friendly court forms and resources in virtual and in-person settings, benefiting self-represented court users statewide. This initiative is particularly crucial in rural areas of the state where legal assistance is limited.

The Douglas County District Court is committed to contributing to the successful launch of the pilot project, located in the Honorable Michael W. Amdor Memorial Law Library, while continuing to provide resources to the public. The first year of operation will focus on creating the Self-Help Center infrastructure, processes, education and collecting accurate data with expert analysis to ensure successful expansion of the pilot project. The State Justice Institute grant period runs from June 2024 to May 2025.

Key program partners include the Nebraska Administrative Office of the Courts and Probation; Nebraska Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission’s Self-Represented Litigation Committee; the county, district, and juvenile courts in Douglas County; and the Volunteer Lawyers Project through the Nebraska State Bar Association.

The Self-Help Center Pilot Project in Douglas County was developed under grant number SJI-T-24-016 from the State Justice Institute. The points of view expressed are those of the Administrative Office of the Courts and Probation at the Nebraska Judicial Branch and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State Justice Institute.

For additional contacts or more information on this topic contact:

Leah Cech, Access to Justice Specialist, at (531) 310-6903 or