RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A study by a legal aid group finds that Virginia residents forced to defend themselves in civil lawsuits are at a huge disadvantage.

John Whitfield, executive director of Blue Ridge Legal Services, presented the findings Wednesday to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The Daily Press reports that at the General District Court level, civil defendants are represented by a lawyer in only 2 percent of cases. Plaintiffs, meanwhile, have lawyers more than half of the time.

When plaintiffs with lawyers face defendants representing themselves they win 60 percent of the time. Many plaintiffs are landlords, loan companies and hospitals.

But when defendants have a lawyer on their side, plaintiffs win only 20 percent of their cases.

The study recommends relaxing procedural rules for pro bone defendants and encouraging lawyers to donate more legal hours.