Carissa Vogel. (U-I photo)

The Peoples Law Library of Iowa And the State Law Library of Iowa and University of Iowa Law Library have teamed up with the hope of offering clear information to people involved in a case or just trying to understand a particular issue.

U-I Law Library director, Carissa Vogel, says the website is an onramp for non-lawyers looking for quality information.
“There are lots of people that come to the judicial system not knowing that they need representation, not understanding necessarily the complexity of what they’re dealing with, or having challenges finding representation. There are a lot of people trying to get help that don’t have representation,” she says.

Vogel says the project is essential for making the judicial system accessible. “There’s an eviction notice, or someone loses their job or, or there’s a custody issue, and they don’t know where to start, right. And so it was important for us that the Peoples Law Library fit that really first basic step in foundational understanding,” Vogel says.

A 2015 national survey of civil dockets found at least one party was self-represented in 76 percent of civil, non-family related cases. Twenty-five years before that — nearly all cases involved attorneys on both sides. The Iowa project was funded with $100,000 from the American Rescue Plan.

(By Zachary Oren Smith, Iowa Public Radio)