What if you are facing litigation and can’t afford an attorney?
There is always a possibility of someone suing you for some reason or another, whether it is justified and reasonable or not. If that happens and you just can’t afford an attorney, what do you do? Well, our system of justice permits you to represent yourself, if you must. It is not always the best thing you can do if you don’t have legal experience and a basic understanding of the law. However, if circumstances compel, it is better than just allowing the other fellow to get a judgment by default or not doing what you believe is right. This is true despite how small or how large the claim is.
Of course, it could be too complex to undertake if you are the Plaintiff and the claim is of a very specialized nature. You’re probably better off not bringing the claim in that case.
In small claims (those under $5,000), the courts are designed to help lay people to present or defend claims.
In the bigger claims, the Law can be very complex, however, and it is wise to at least hire a lawyer to give you some guidance. They can provide you with some basic information about how to prepare your pleadings and present your case. They can give you some idea of what the legal concepts are and what the case is about.
If you are the Defendant, there may be special defenses that could apply and bring about a quick judgment in your favor. There could be a counterclaim or there could be basis to ask the Court to dismiss the claim of the Plaintiff.
If you are the Plaintiff, you may not have thought of all of the various ways to present your claim and you may not know when you might be entitled to move the Court for judgment.
It is always best to go into Court with an attorney representing you, but if that is not financially possible, give serious thought to trying to find an attorney who is willing to let you just hire him/her to guide you. After all, in most cases it is going to boil down to who and what the Court believes – you and your facts or the other guy and their facts.
Another thought . . . you might want to consider mediating the issues before going to Court or soon after getting into Court. Who knows – you might get things worked out without the need to have the Court decide your case.