When Lawyers Need a Lawyer: Divorce, Discipline, Crime
While nearly all lawyers will, at some point or another, consider representing themselves in some legal matter, it's often a bad idea. Perhaps the worst areas a lawyer can elect to self-represent include attorney discipline, personal family law matters, as well as personal criminal matters.
If you, unfortunately, are facing any of these matters yourself, or will down the road, below you can find a list a reasons why you should definitely consider the age old idiom: A lawyer that represents themselves, has a fool for a client (especially if statutory attorney fees are available).
Emotions Too High
When the case is personal to you, you won't be able to be your own best advocate because emotions will cloud your legal judgment. It really is that simple. As an attorney though, you'll be in a better position than most to help your advocate.
But, lawyers often forget how personally involved litigants become in their own cases. Sure, sometimes clients will seem disinterested, or be hard to get on the phone even, but often enough, clients are obsessed and will barely be able organize the facts of their own case, let alone recognize what is relevant. Even with your all legal training, when a case is personal to you, you need to think differently about it.
When it's your family, your license, or your liberty on the line, it's very easy for emotions to run too high and that can easily get the best of lawyers.
A Pro Se Defense Is a Bad Defense
If you're going to opt to defend yourself, know that you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage. In addition to being held back by your own emotional connection, you are likely to lack the relevant legal experience, or at least at the same level as a specialized practitioner. In disciplinary and criminal matters, it could be bad business too, as your license could be on the line.
Furthermore, if you're not convinced that representing yourself is doing yourself a disservice, just consider the way the presentation would look to a jury or judge, or how you might be limited in what you say during witness examinations, openings and closings, as well as at other times.
- Celebrity Lawyer Laura Wasser Launches Online Divorce Site (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Elon Musk's Divorce Lawyer Is His GC at Tesla (FindLaw's In House)
- Pro Se Lawyer's Divorce Leads to Sanctions Over 'Maelstrom of Misconduct' (FindLaw's Strategist)
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