The case against pro se litigants: Should you represent yourself in court? Here are 3 reasons not to.
“A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”
“Pro se” is when a person represents him or herself in court, without an attorney. In some cases, such as simple contract matters of less than $5000 (the maximum damages for small claims court), presenting your case yourself can be your best option because the amount in controversy is less than what it would cost to hire an attorney.
In matters where more is at stake, there are several reasons to hire an attorney. Consider these three reasons before you represent yourself in court.
1. Emotions Interfere
The first result of litigating pro se is that you will not see your case objectively. Try as hard as you can, but you will always see your case from your perspective — which is dangerous when presenting to the judge or jury. Without an objective perspective, you will be clouded by emotions and miss important aspects and details.
2. You will miss the forest for the trees
Rather than getting an overall perspective, you will place a sometimes irrational focus on minute details that, in the whole scheme of things, bear no importance on your case. By focusing on issues that are irrelevant — and will undoubtedly be stricken or otherwise objected to — you will miss the important aspects of proving the elements of your case. You may not think certain elements are important because they seem obvious to you, as you are the one who experienced the issue. However, to a jury — who are as objective as anyone can be — those elements are vital, and if you miss them, you can kill your case.
3. Saving money is only an illusion
Representing yourself may actually cost you money instead of saving money. You may make a costly mistake and lose your case, then be ordered to pay the opposing party’s attorney’s fees. Additionally, your case will take you much more time — time that in many cases would be more efficiently spent if you were doing other things.
If you are considering hiring an attorney for your litigation matter, call our office now for a confidential consultation on your matter, at 407-965-5519, or contact us here.