Many people believe that being “pro per” or self-represented is the best way handle their legal issues without having to pay for an attorney. While some pro pers got their day in court, like this guy, http://calapp.blogspot.com/2011/03/mccollough-v-johnson-rodenberg-lauinger.html, this is a rarity. An individual with legal representation is much better off in terms of obtaining the relief he or she seeks in court. Granted, I may be bias since I’m an attorney but here are five reasons why paying for a good lawyer is worth the money.
1. Experienced lawyers know the importance of complying with the California Code of Civil Procedure.
The Code of Civil Procedure governs how one can litigate in court. It contains, among other requirements, various important deadlines and methods from which one can calculate these deadlines. Unlike experienced lawyers, self-represented parties do not know how many days in advance you must notice a motion, when to respond to a motion and how much time you have to file an appeal. Experienced lawyers are familiar with these deadlines and understand the consequences of missing these deadlines, which sometimes can mean losing the right to appeal or losing a meritorious claim. Experienced lawyers not only have a personal calendar but also a backup calendaring system and an assistant to double check these dates.
2. You get more bees with honey.
Most self-represented parties generally think that being overly aggressive with the other side is the only way to win a case. Not so fast. Experienced lawyers know that the strength of a position lays not only in your treatment of the opposing counsel but also in your legal arguments. In my opinion, it is better to be cordial and friendly to the opposing counsel so that you can get their cooperation and extensions to file your papers than to piss them off. Everybody knows nothing is worse than a pissed off lawyer.
3. Experienced lawyers know or can learn each judge’s rules, procedures and filing requirements.
Each judge manages their courtroom in a particular way. If you do not know the judge’s schedule or the requirements they impose on filings, you may run the risk of having your papers rejected, or worse, not being able to timely seek a relief. I have seen a pro per litigant being turned away because he arrived in the courtroom at 8:46 a.m. and the judge stops hearing Orders to Show Cause at 8:45 a.m.
4. Lawyers can conduct efficient research due to their resources.
While the Internet is helpful, it may not give you all the cases and citations that you can use in court to argue your position. A lawyer, on the other hand, has access to extensive legal databases such as Lexis or Westlaw, or even better, access to another lawyer that has practiced in this particular area for years. In short, what can take you up to an entire day to research can be done within minutes by a lawyer. What is more efficient? You decide.
5. The benefits of having legal representation in court are likely to justify its costs.
Would you hire a dress designer to reconstruct your house? If not, why would you represent yourself in a legal matter where you have a lot to lose (or gain). Oftentimes a litigant will take on a case pro-per only to make the situation worse. For instance, I received many telephone calls from people that have been trying to work out a legal issue by themselves for months. By the time they try to find an attorney to take over, the statute of limitations has expired and they are left with little recourses. It’s simple. If you need a lawyer you should get yourself a lawyer.
Moreover, one common misconception is that legal services are costly. However, the legal market is saturated and you can now find firms offering flat-fee services as well as affordable payment plans. With these options available, retaining a good attorney you can afford is possible and comes highly recommended.
****The opinion above is not intended to be legal advice and absolutely does not create any attorney-client relationship between its author and the readers. Please consult an attorney for information or advice specific to your legal issue.****
Regal Law Office
21151 S. Western Ave. Suite 263A
Torrance, CA 90501