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Fayette County Legal Help Center designed to make the court process a little more DIY

One of two stations set up in the Law Library at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse as part of a Legal Help Center
Josh James
One of two stations set up in the Law Library at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse as part of a Legal Help Center

Lexington has officially opened the doors to its one-of-a-kind Legal Help Center at the city’s District Court House. The idea is to help unrepresented residents navigate an often intimidating system.

The Legal Help Center is made up of two small pockets tucked away in the Law Library at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse. They’re part of an effort to help people who enter the district system already at a disadvantage.

"Unfortunately in today's economy, it's been like this and it's building over the last few years. Almost 60% of many of the litigants that walk through the courthouse doors are unrepresented. And when you get to family court, that number rises to almost 80%."
Justice Michelle Keller, Kentucky Supreme Court, 6th District

So, say you’re one of those unrepresented people and you’re trying to get started on the divorce process, modifying child support, a small claims complaint, or expungement of a misdemeanor. Justice Keller says the paperwork can be daunting for a newcomer.

"Folks are trying to access that without the assistance of counsel, so this center will provide legal forms that are easy to walk through," she explains. "They are guided, informational forms."

Users can go through a series of questions and a program generates the necessary court documents for filing. And from 11-2 Thursdays, there will be volunteer attorneys and law students on hand to help — not to offer legal counsel but to provide legal information.

It’s not a fix-all, but it’s a first step toward putting unrepresented litigants on a more even footing.

Guided interviews are available on these matters:

  • Dissolution of marriage (no minor children)
  • Motion to modify child support
  • Petition for order of protection
  • Small claims court complaint
  • Petition for probate
  • Petition for expungement (for misdemeanor, violation or traffic infraction conviction)
  • Motion for waiver of court costs and fees

For more information, visit the Kentucky Access to Justice Commission

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.