Here’s a great article from Todd Spodek, a fellow NYC lawyer.
Many people will always think twice before hiring an attorney to represent them on a claim. This is a popular feeling especially if you don’t fancy long legal proceedings and are willing to take any reasonable settlement and go on with life. While this might be a reasonable approach especially when dealing with small claims, it is always a bad idea to ignore the benefits of having expert legal advise handle your case.
When Can You Defend Yourself?
There are several instances when the legal system allows, or perhaps demands that you handle your own claim. Some of the notable instances that might lead to a solo representation include
When you are dealing with a civil case and you cannot afford your own lawyer
When you feel that you can handle your own case
When dealing with a small claim that don’t require stringent legal processes. In this case, the defendant might even be willing to settle and all you have to do is make the settlement legal
The Law is Always Complex
Interpreting the law and tweaking it to suit your claim isn’t that easy. You will have to pour over tons of content and potential interpretation before finding the right clauses to back up your claim. This means that individuals who don’t have the experience in handling specific claims, such as Long Island divorce cases, will always have a hard time pushing a point home or countering what the defendant throws at them.
The fact that it isn’t wise to hire a divorce attorney to handle your auto accident claim in itself is testimony enough that their is more to legal claims than meets the eye. Experience and in-depth understanding of specific laws is crucial in getting the best claim possible.
Fighting the Defense Attorneys Needs Wit and Skill
It doesn’t matter how wide read you are; you can’t win a duel against a team of defense attorneys unless you have your own team of attorneys. Your case might be clear cut and straightforward but the fact that you don’t understand all possible legal loopholes might undermine your otherwise solid case.
A Reputable Attorney Commands Respect
A great deal of clients get favorable settlements by simply hiring a reputable attorney. A highly experienced lawyer tips the odds in your favor hence increasing your chances of getting what you want no matter how long and vicious the legal battle might be.
Most companies or individuals will always offer a settlement off the court once they see that you have invested in a great attorney. The reputation and respect will not only improve your chances of getting a better settlement but also ensure that you get your claim as fast as possible.
Do You Always Need a Lawyer?
It is always wise to hire an attorney if your claim is complex enough and you can afford the extra costs. It is hard to tell whether your case is complex or not without talking to an attorney. Even a simple claim might turn grizzly over time as the defendant digs up additional information to prove that you don’t deserve the settlement.
Always hire an attorney when you suspect that the other side might not play fair. The first sign of an unfair contest is when the other side already has legal counsel.
Any case that goes through a jury is too complex for personal representation. Choosing the right jury is an arduous task in itself let alone convincing the jury that you deserve the claim you are pushing for.
While hiring a lawyer in anything complex or emotionally demanding is the best way out, you might get an easy and fast settlement if
You are dealing with a straight case and the opposing side is eager to settle your claim
You understand all your options and have made a decision to settle for what the defendant gives
The claim is all about filing and you won’t have to defend yourself in a court room
Understanding the Risks of Representing Yourself
The biggest risk of representing yourself is that the chances of losing the case are higher. Sometimes, you might have your case dismissed simply because you did not follow the right filing procedure or do everything in time. At other times, you might not be convincing enough or meet all the technical requirements needed to justify your claim.
If you lose the case, the judge might have you pay the other side’s legal fees meaning that you will end up spending more money than you would have by hiring a professional to handle your case. This will wreck your financial standing as the judgment will hold and you will keep paying for as long as it takes to clear the fines imposed on you.
Such a backfiring case is common when dealing with a defendant who doesn’t just want to give you the least settlement possible but also has a reputation to safe guard. Such could even sue you for defamation and character assassination should you fail to prove your case.
Hiring an attorney is always a great idea. The contingency fee you will have to pay once the case is won is almost always better than the risks of losing. Any reputable lawyer will first listen to your case and will even advise you to defend yourself if he or she sees that the case is simple, straightforward and the other side is willing to settle as soon as possible.