It’s a frequently asked question by potential clients who are looking to get in and out of the legal system in the cheapest way possible. The reality is that you are entering a system with specific rules and procedures with which you are not familiar. It is system which is governed by a body of law. It is system run by individuals who have their own preferences and beliefs which can impact a given case.
In representing yourself in this system, will a lack of knowledge about the rules, the law, and the people in the system impact the likely result? Yes. Although you may have a plan for presenting your case, are you prepared if things don’t go as planned? Do you understand the proceedings enough to pick up on signs that the judge does not agree with your arguments? Can you improvise and adapt to the child in a case while in trial? Are you able to think on your feet in the middle of a proceeding?
Lawyers bring an experience with the system. They bring a knowledge of the law and the rules of procedure. All of these factors allow an attorney to make an accurate assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the claims you want to raise and to determine the most effective way to present your case.
Often the parties bring into the case their emotions which cloud the ability to think clearly about the case and limit the ability to make any objection assessment of potential for success. An attorney can bring an important component of objectivity so that the client can make the best decisions and secure the best outcome.
Lawyers are often faced with the failed results of clients who tried to represent themselves. The clients who drafted their separation agreement based on a form they found on the internet which they didn’t really understand but copied. Or the form will they found that doesn’t make an appropriate estate plan for them. Or the release that they signed without getting advice that ended their case before it should have. The list goes on and on. Sometimes the lawyer can help the client get the case back on track. Many times the damage is done, and all the lawyer can do is discuss with the client what, if anything, they can do to limit further damage or what can be learned in the future from the mistakes already made.
Getting a consultation with an attorney is essential to understanding your legal rights and understanding what an attorney can do for you in your case. Will you spend more money to hire an attorney than to represent yourself? Of course. In most cases, the money spent early in the process to gain knowledge or direction is significantly less than fixing the damage later. When significant rights or claims are at stake, isn’t that an investment you need to make?