The Allegheny County Pennsylvania Family Division Self-Help center opened in January 2014 to assist self-represented parties. Persons making less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline are eligible for referral to the Legal Advice Clinic.
It is always better to have an attorney represent you. But some people cannot afford to hire an attorney. The Self-Help Center is located at 400 Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh and is open from 8:30 am. to 4:30 pm., Monday-Friday. The Self-Help Center provides a tiered level of services to meet the needs of self-representing clients. Those making less than 125% of the poverty guideline are eligible for the Legal Advice Clinic.
The Self-Help Center basically replaces the old "Pro Se Motions Court" program. More than 1,500 clients have visited the Self-Help Center since it opened in January. The former program had only served 680 clients at the same point last year. The Self-Help Center helps to fill the void left by continuing budget cuts that have hit public-provided legal services. The former Pro Se program only met twice a week and had an average of 60 clients a day being turned away.
The Self-Help Center is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. So, it was a new concept for litigants, attorneys and judges and court staff. To make the project as revenue-neutral as possible, positions were filled with personnel from other departments and re-purposed equipment and furniture were used whenever possible. There was a one-time cost of about $10,000 for some new furniture, intake counters and waiting-room seating. But there should be no additional costs for the future, saving Allegheny County taxpayers and government. A number of local attorneys, judges and staff worked hard to make the Center happen. Way to go Allegheny County!