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What Are The Pros And Cons Of Acting As Your Own Attorney



The act of representing oneself, or proceeding pro se can be tricky, but it can be done. If you decide to act as your own attorney, make sure to do your homework. Preparing yourself and weighing the pros and cons of acting as your own attorney can make all the difference to your case. Saving money and being able to better represent yourself are two false benefits to acting as your own attorney.

Pros of Representing Yourself

There really are no real benefits to acting as your own attorney, but there are false benefits.

  • The first false benefit that comes to most people's minds is that they are going to save money on lawyer's fees if they represent themselves. While this may be true in the beginning of the situation, the outcome you receive when you represent yourself is hardly ever the most ideal, and you will wind up spending the money you thought you were saving anyway on whatever fines and associated costs the judge imposes on you when your case does not turn out in the best way it could.
  • The second most popular false benefit is that you can always represent yourself better than any lawyer can because you know your situation better than anyone else. While this is certainly true, just because you are more familiar with your circumstances does not mean that you are the most qualified to understand how to apply the law to them. In the end, the legal system does not care about who knew the ins and outs of the case but who knew how better to apply the rules of law to the situation.

Cons of Representing Yourself

There are many consequences to representing yourself in any kind of legal matter. Take contracts, for instance. Although it may be costly for an attorney to look over a contract before you sign it, signing it without fully understanding the ramifications of what it contains can be disastrous. An example can be found in the recent film The Social Network, which is based on actual events. In it, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin signs a contract without his lawyer reviewing it first. In the end, it costs him about 20 percent of the company, recently valued at $50 billion.

Unfortunately, there are many examples throughout history of people representing themselves where they did more harm to themselves than good. Colin Ferguson, the Long Island Railroad Shooter, is probably one of the most recognizable examples of why representing yourself is not such a good idea.