Podcast #84: Meet Litigator, Legislator, and Legal Hacker, Shemia Fagan

During this week’s podcast, Sam talks with Shemia Fagan about how she juggles being a litigator, legislator, legal hacker, podcaster, and more.

Nearly 70% of Defendants in Civil Court Do Not Have a Lawyer

Lawyerist recently published a piece that talked about Richard Zorza’s dive into the data underpinning the most recent civil litigation survey from the National Center for State Courts, and Sam said he hasn’t been able to get it out of his head. A sampling of civil cases showed that in 68% of all civil cases, the defendant is unrepresented, while the plaintiff is not. With that, Sam said, it is probably time that we reconsider what courts are all about and acknowledge that they are in large part a place for unrepresented parties.

Aaron pointed out that so often, the profession gets trapped in thinking of limited solutions like more money for legal aid, but when the numbers are this stark, that alone can’t be the solution. Defendants are going to continue to be unrepresented, and the question has to be how the profession can still help people mount a good defense?

Sam echoed this, saying that this problem can’t just be solved with pro bono attorneys, in part because people often don’t even know they need a lawyer. In short, this requires changing the way we conceive of the courts.

Being a Litigator, Legislator, and Legal Hacker, with Shemia Fagan


Shemia Fagan is the managing partner at the Portland, Oregon branch of HKM Employment Attorneys. She focuses her legal practice on employment challenges working parents face, such as pregnancy discrimination, medical leave, sick leave, pay equity, and sexual harassment.

She also publishes a weekly podcast on employment rights for working mothers. Ms. Fagan is also a state legislator serving her second term in the Oregon House of Representatives and a Super Lawyers Rising Star.

You can follow Shemia on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thanks to Ruby Receptionists and Xero for sponsoring this episode!

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