Self-Help Web Center
Self-Help Web Center
Self-Help Web Center
Meeting the Needs of SelfRepresented Litigants
What is the Self-Help Web Center?
The Self-Help Web Center (SHWC) is a legal information and self-help
assistance desk designed to serve as a starting point for people who
must navigate an unfamiliar and complex court system to resolve legal
problems on their own.
The SHWC is located in the Clerk of the Court’s office in Room 602 of
the the Daley Center courthouse downtown.
Helping Self-Represented Litigants
The Self-Help Web Center provides a
number of services to self-represented
Document Assembly using A2J Interviews
Facilitated use of Illinois Legal Aid Online
Referrals to the Chicago-Kent Advice Desk and
other legal aid services
Online Case information through Clerk’s
Answers to general inquiries about the Daley
Access to Justice (A2J)
Interviews are document
designed to address a
recurring problem among
A2J Interviews use a
graphical interface to guide
users through a series of
questions. Using the
answers to these
questions, A2J prepares a
completed form that is
ready to be filed with the
A2J Interviews currently
provide the forms
File a Joint Simplified
Dissolution of Marriage
Sue for the return of their
Waive their court fees in
Navigate the postjudgment debt collections
All of these A2J Interviews
are available on
Illinois Legal Aid Online
Illinois Legal Aid Online
(ILAO) is one of the country’s
premiere legal aid websites.
ILAO provides user-friendly
web-based legal information
for over 20 areas of the law.
This material is written with
self-represented litigants in
All computers at the SHWC
have their homepage set to
ILAO. If the page does not
automatically open, the site’s
The best way to navigate
ILAO is the “Browse
Articles” feature found at
the bottom of the ILAO
Among the materials
available on ILAO are a
number of “Guide Me”
modules. These modules
provide an in-depth
overview of a particular
area of the law.
ILAO “Guide Me” Modules
provides a step-by-step
overview of the law that
Forms/Letters displays links
to relevant court forms,
demand letters, and notices
that are available online.
Access to Justice Interviews
can be found in the
Users can print out an
overview of the information
provided in the module by
clicking on Summary of the
Law and selecting the print
The Helpful Organizations
option at the bottom of the
page allows users to search
for legal aid services in their
ILAO returns 10 to 25
legal aid services
depending on the
visitor’s location and
the area of the law
User’s can print this
information by clicking
on “Print this Article”
link in the top-right
corner of the
The Chicago-Kent Advice Desk, located at the
opposite end of Room 602, is a clinical program
that provides legal assistance to indigent and
working-poor self-represented defendants.
A litigant must be a defendant in a municipal
case to qualify for the Advice Desk.
Advice Desk Referrals
The Advice Desk will only see defendants in
To determine whether the case is in the municipal
division, find the case number located in the upper lefthand corner of the litigant’s court forms.
The case number must contain a “M1” for “municipal”
Groups that do not qualify for the Advice Desk:
Defendants in Non-Municipal cases
We can help these groups by guiding them through
Illinois Legal Aid Online or by referring them to other
legal aid services.
Other Help Desks
There are over a dozen
other legal help resources
located in the Daley
Center. Many of these
desks focus on specific
areas of the law, and it’s
appropriate to send a
person there when they
To find a list of all help
desks located in the Daley
Center, search for “Self
Help Resources in the
Daley Center” in ILAO.
(This link can also be
found in the favorites
section of the browser.)
Many SHWC visitors are involved in collections cases
The CARPLS Self-Help Collection Desk can assist individuals
who fall into the following categories:
Most commonly, these cases involve a creditor -- typically a bank
of collection agency -- suing a debtor.
Other cases deal with the collection of judgments and related
issues like wage garnishment and seizure of property.
Defendants in lawsuits brought by a creditor to collect a debt;
Defendants that have had a judgment entered against them
Defendants who must appear in court in response to a proceeding
brought by the creditor to determine whether the defendant has
income or property available to pay the amount of the judgment.
The Collections Desk is located in Room 1401
Hours of Operations: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 9:30 am to
Cook County Collections Guide and
Plaintiff’s A2J Interview
On Illinois Legal Aid,
search for “A Guide to
Collections on Judgments
in Cook County” to find a
detailed page for plaintiffs
and defendants involved in
In addition, plaintiffs who
have a judgment entered
in their favor can use the
“How to Collect a
Judgment” A2J Interview
to help them complete
Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic
Expungement Help Desk
CGLA's Expungement Help Desk helps individuals
seeking to clear their criminal record through
expungement, sealing, or executive clemency.
The goal of this help desk is to enable individuals
with arrests or convictions in their past, who
have demonstrated positive life changes, to
become more productive members of our
Location and Hours of Operation:
Located in the cubicle space in Room 1006
Open Monday – Wednesday, 9:00 am – 12 pm
Clients must schedule appointments
Looking up Case Information
On-Line case information is
available on the Clerk of
the Circuit Court of Cook
County’s website. The site
is listed in the browser’s
Favorites section, but the
Accessing the Case
Search: On the left side
of the webpage, move the
cursor over Online Case
Info and click on Full
Electronic Docket Search
Search by Case Number or Name
The Electronic Full Case
Docket Search allows users
to search for their case
information by name or
Searching by case number
is easiest. Simply put the
users case number into the
appropriate field. Make
sure you follow the format
provided by the webpage.
If a visitor does not have
their case number, you can
search by name.
Sometimes this can be
difficult and requires
Getting Around the Daley Center
Many litigants come to the Self-Help Web
Center in need of directions to a
courtroom or clerk’s station. Volunteers
and staff should familiarize themselves
with the Daley Center.
The next few slides provide an overview of
layout of the Clerk’s office. In addition to
reviewing the slides, it is best to take
some time and walk around the
The Sixth Floor
The layout of each floor of Clerk’s office is practically identical:
there are two large rooms on each side of the building and an
escalator and elevator in between.
Room 601 contains the following:
Information Desk The clerk at the information desk is a good source
for directions and answers to general questions. In addition, litigants
pick up almost all civil division court documents at the information
Motion Counter All motions for civil division cases are filed here, and
any court documents necessary for filing a motion are picked up here.
Court Records The Clerk maintains hard copies of civil cases going
back 21 years. Clerks at the records station in 601 can help litigants
who seek a hard copy of their case information.
The seventh floor elevator bank can reach any floor in the
Daley Center. The elevators on most floors, including six,
are more restricted. To get to courtrooms from the SHWC,
for example, users should take the escalator to seven and
then take the elevator to the floor their courtroom is on.
Litigants can serve defendants through the Sheriff’s Office
located on seven. For more information on service process,
see the civil division FAQ and the Service of Process article
The eighth floor is very similar to the sixth floor,
except that it houses the chancery, law, and
domestic relations divisions of the Cook County
More information about these divisions can be
found on the Clerk’s webpage.
Visitors are allowed to print out information
relevant to their legal problem.
There is no charge for printing, but the amount of
material visitors print out should be reasonable.
Generally, visitors can print out one or two
articles from ILAO as well as any online case
information from the Clerk’s webpage.
Make sure users do not print out excessively long
material such as whole sections of the Code or
case information from multiple cases.
SHWC Does Not Give Legal Advice
The SHWC is a self-help desk. Students
facilitate the use of online legal resources,
but, as law students, cannot give legal
What constitutes legal advice is not always
clear, and it is best to error on the side of
caution. For example, the SHWC cannot
tell visitors what to write on court forms,
tell them what to say at court, or advise
them on any legal questions.
The SHWC Database is
located on the desktop of
the computer used by
volunteers and staff.
Each SHWC visitor should
be added to the Daily
Count. The more
information that can be
added about the user, the
Accurate record keeping
ensures the future funding
of the SHWC. Make sure
the database reflects the
number of visitors you
helped that day.
Daily Count Summary Form
The Daily Count Summary form is a new
intake form that will be used in addition
to the electronic SHWC Database.
Use a new form for each shift.
Take this form with you and submit it to
Center for Access to Justice office no later
than a week after the shift worked. Make
sure that either Dave Bonebrake, Andrew
Baker, or Jay Carle signs the form.
Clocking In and Clocking Out
The SHWC Database also keeps track of
In order to get credit for a shift, you
must clock in and clock out.
Volunteer hours are sent to the Public
Interest Resource Center quarterly. Once
students have done more than 50 hours of
volunteer work, they are eligible for the
Dean’s Certificate of Service.
Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Room 602, Daley Center
50 West Washington Downtown
Accessible by Blue and Red Lines