What is the Self Help Legal Center?
The Self Help Legal Center of Southern Illinois is more than a website. It is a law student on the phone who cannot give you legal advice, but can assist you in finding information that will help you if you can’t afford an attorney. It is a location for people to go when they need information on how to represent themselves in court. It is also a library with a large selection of reading material available on handling legal matters yourself.
The mission of the Self Help Legal Center can best be summarized by the motto of the Southern Illinois University School of Law: “to serve the public good.” Since the Center’s inception in 1998, the public good has been addressed by providing pro se litigants with information to help resolve legal matters on their own. Another mission of the Self Help Legal Center has been to provide assistance to those agencies that come into contact with pro se litigants. Both missions have been achieved through the creation of this website and an extensive array of legal information packets available to the public and agencies serving the public.
What We Can &
Cannot Do for you
1. You are NOT our "client". We are NOT your "attorneys". We are NOT representing you. Any information that you give us is NOT CONFIDENTIAL. This is not an "attorney-client" relationship. Consequently, DO NOT give us any facts or information about yourself that you do not want to share with the outside world.
2. We are here to help you represent yourself. As such, WE CANNOT answer legal questions such as "what is the law on...", "can I evict someone if I give them notice?", "do I have to file an answer?" or "should I give up custody, file for divorce, get an order of protection, etc.?". If you need legal advice, see an attorney.
3. WE CAN provide procedural information such as "normally, if you don’t file an answer you are held in default." or "you can file a document at the Circuit Clerk’s office."
4. WE CAN also provide research assistance such as what self help packets, classes, or books are available on particular topics or where you may be able to find the answer to your legal question(s).
5. WE CAN answer questions about Self Help Legal Center forms but only if the question pertains to what a word, phrase, or the form itself means.
6. WE DO NOT answer questions about whether to use Self Help Legal Center packets or forms.
7. WE DO NOT answer more than a few questions that are answered in the self help packets themselves. If you are unable to understand the forms/packets and/or how to use them even after we answer a few questions, you should not represent yourself.
8. We cannot fill out or help you to fill out any of the forms that we may give/mail to you or you may download from the website.
The Self Help Legal Center website is available 24/7. All the material on the website is available for you to download and print. The Self Help Legal Center hours vary with the schedules of the student workers. For more information you can call 453-3217. The Self Help or pro se library is available to patrons as long as the Southern Illinois School of Law library is open. For information about the hours of the Law School library view http://www.law.siu.edu/lawlib/info/hours.htm or call (618) 453-8796.
Borrow’s cards are available during most library hours to all SIU students, SIU faculty, and Illinois residents. Please have a picture ID such as a student ID card, faculty ID card, Illinois driver’s license or Illinois state ID card when applying for a borrow’s card.
Borrowing privileges will be blocked for non-return of materials, or for excessive late returns of materials. Details on the latter are available at the Law Library.
Photocopies may be made of any Law Library materials except for some books too fragile for such handling. Please ask for assistance at the Circulation Desk if you have not made copies in our library before.
For further information contact the Law Library Circulation Desk at (618) 453-8796.