Frequently Asked Questions…
For this week’s column, I decided to include some frequently asked questions. These are general questions that usually have standard answers; however, again, any time you have any legal question, you should contact an attorney.
- “Do I need a Lawyer?” 99% of the time, if you come by my office and you ask this question, the answer is “yes.” If you didn’t need a lawyer, you probably wouldn’t be here.
- “Can I represent myself?” Well . . . yes. While there is no law against representing yourself, it is usually always a terrible idea. The main reason not to represent yourself, of course, is that a lawyer has had years of training and experience in doing what a person representing himself probably doesn’t have. Even if you are absolutely in the right about your case, it takes some degree of skill and legal knowledge to present your side to the judge or jury. And the other side is always going to have a counter-argument. Believe me, no matter how easy you believe your case is, it is probably going to play out different than you think.
- “Will you give me the forms I need to do my case by myself?” No. Many people think that being a lawyer means all you have to do is find and fill out a form. While most lawyers have general forms they use, every situation is different. It’s really not as easy as you think. Plus, this is kind of like going to the grocery store and saying “Can you just give me that bread over there. I know you have it.”
- “Will you fight for me?” Definitely. I love to win and I hate to lose. I want, and try, to win every case. When I don’t get the result in a case that I thought I should have, I take it personally and I am usually as upset (or more upset) than my client.
- “Can you be mean to the other side?” Most of the time when people are getting sued, or suing someone, they have a great dislike for their opposition. Therefore, they have the natural urge to want to make things as uncomfortable as possible for that opposition. I often hear clients say, “When so and so gets on the stand, I really want you to bury them.” Many times, however, this tactic is not effective. It usually takes a significant period of time for someone to gain this sort of dislike for another person. The clients who request this sort of treatment have usually spent a long time gaining a dislike for their opponent, and probably for good reasons. The judge and/or jury however, know nothing about the case outside of what they hear in the courtroom. Therefore, they have substantially less time and information to share in their dislike of the witness or your opponent. If the judge or jury can’t be quickly brought up to your level of dislike, then my being mean to them is going to be seen as bullying, which will hurt your case. So, although I can and have been mean to people on the witness stand before, it is a tactic that must be used sparingly and only when you have some shocking news that will instantly cause the judge or jury to dislike the witness as much as you do.
This column is intended for general information purposes only. It is not intended, nor should it be construed as personal legal advice. The answers to most legal problems rely on the specific facts of your situation; therefore, it is very important that you personally see a lawyer when these situations arise.