When You Don’t Need a Lawyer for Your Small Claims Case - dummies

When You Don’t Need a Lawyer for Your Small Claims Case

By Judge Philip Straniere

In all likelihood, among the reasons you decided to pursue your case in small claims court is because you don’t want to have to or can’t afford to pay a lawyer. Before looking at instances when hiring a lawyer is probably a good idea, take look at situations in which you can probably do without the extra expense.

Handling your own case is a good idea if

  • You have a simple case. The more legwork you have to do to collect information, track down witnesses, or review complex laws crucial to your case, the less logical it is to handle your case on your own.

  • You’re organized. If you can put your hands on every receipt, note, slip of paper, and phone record pertinent to your case, can keep things organized without losing them before your trial, and can organize your thoughts well enough to present your case in court, representing yourself will probably go well.

  • You can keep your cool in court. If you’re a hothead who will alienate the judge every time you open your mouth, having someone else do the talking is probably good idea.

In some instances, however, you may want to hire a lawyer and yet be unable to find one who will take your case. Two main reasons lawyers won’t agree to fight your battle are:

  • You don’t have a good case. You don’t have a good case if the law doesn’t recognize your problem as a legal claim, or your evidence is flimsy, or the damage is difficult to prove.

    If you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, you’ll have trouble finding a good lawyer. You may be interested in the “principle” of the matter but a lawyer will be interested in the “principal.”

  • Lawyers don’t see any opportunity to make any money on your case. Either the damages don’t add up to enough cash to make it worth their while, or the case would require too much work on their part. Lawyers, like most people who work for a living, like to make money, so they may turn your case down even if it’s a valid case.