We are often asked this question. My response: anyone is allowed to represent themselves, but any legal matter is best handled by a legal professional.
- Would you build your own house?
- Would you operate on yourself?
- Would you even attempt to cut your own hair?
Most, if not all, people would answer “NO” to these questions. The same prudence should apply for legal matters. If something unexpected goes wrong for someone who does represent themselves, it may be impossible to un-do the damage. Most attorneys hire an attorney to handle their important personal matters.
WHAT DO ATTORNEYS DO?
Most people who question the need for representation think that attorney representation consists of being a mouthpiece. Why, they say, can’t I just tell my own story to the judge myself? Why should I have to pay someone to talk for me? While attorneys do eventually speak for their clients, the presentation they give is a culmination of work and knowledge that is just as important, if not more important, than the presentation itself.
- Attorneys know and apply the substantive law regarding the matter at hand.
- Attorneys know and apply the procedural requirements to effectively move the case. (And cases can be easily lost or severely impacted by procedural and technical mistakes, even when the law is on your side).
- Attorneys get, organize, evaluate, and process information in accordance with their client’s best interest and rules of court
- Attorneys can and will prepare the client and present the client’s story much more effectively than the client alone.
WHAT ABOUT THE COST?
All of the above being said, the cost to hire an attorney is still a daunting reality and one that not many people are prepared for. But know this: the cost to undo a court order or fix a mistake is always going to be higher. It may be that an order can’t be changed at all. We get calls each week from people who regret going to court by themselves. At the very least, invest in a comprehensive consultation with one of our attorneys before even attempting to go it alone. The attorney can alert you to possible pit falls and point out important matters that you need to address with the court. We can also advise you as to how to stop the process if things go wrong so that you can obtain an attorney. We understand the financial burdens people face, especially in recent times. We do our best to estimate legal costs and work with people regarding both retainers and outstanding balances. Reasonable payment plans are worked out on a good faith basis when possible.