Law libraries combine effforts to provide better information to public

IOWA CITY — A partnership between the State Law Library and the University of Iowa Law Library has resulted in the creation of a new resource for Iowans. The People’s Law Library offers information on topics ranging from housing eviction to divorce proceedings.

University of Iowa Law Library director Carissa Vogel says the website is an onramp for people looking for clear and quality information  in a case or just trying to understand a particular issue.   “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 there’s a custody issue, and they don’t know where to start right. And so it was important for us that the People’s 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% 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.