A recent poll asked “If you ever tried to represent yourself, was the judge biased against you for not understanding the law or courtroom procedure?” 95% of people who answered said “Yes”, and almost half of people felt that the judge turned against them for not knowing the proper procedures.
Think about it another way; imagine you and a friend were traveling to China. Your friend speaks Chinese fluently, and you only know a few phrases. At the first store you go to, you try to ask the cashier what you think is a simple question, but her response is like a tidal wave of information, all in Chinese. Wouldn’t you ask your fluent friend to help translate? And don’t you think the cashier might be happier to talk with someone who really knows the language, not just a few words?
Law practice is very similar to learning to communicate in a foreign language. Lawyers and most judges have gone to law school, sat for an extensive bar exam, practiced enough to sustain an income and have had to pursue continuing legal education every year. We know court procedure and the law. We know how to present a case effectively to the judge, as well as how to defend against the opposing party. We know the language in this foreign land.
With so much at stake in a court case (your money, your home and your family), can you really afford to be a stranger in a strange land?
by Caitlin Herndon, Attorney at Law.