All too often in our practice, we see people who have decided to write their own will, lease, or other legal document with less than desirable results. Or, they may try, unsuccessfully, to record a deed, or file a document with the court. Two people may have a business arrangement and decide to create their own written or even oral agreement. They have a friendly relationship, so who needs to use a lawyer and incur a legal bill?
In all these instances, what they thought would be quick and easy turned into a confusing problem that took them more time and money to fix.
In every state in the U.S., individuals can represent themselves and handle their legal affairs without the assistance of a lawyer. This is known as acting “pro se,” which roughly translates into “acting on your own behalf.”
While you may be able to take care of what seems to be a simple document or filing, it usually isn’t recommended. People try and handle their own documents for different reasons, some common reasons include:
- People have the perception that lawyers are “expensive” and they want to save money.
- Some may feel it is too difficult or complicated to get a lawyer involved. They can save time by doing it themselves.
- People may feel the matter is too simple or easy to use a lawyer.
Often the simplest, most cost-effective solution is to use a lawyer to handle a legal matter, even with what appears to be a simple transaction. Here is a real-life example.
A doctor and real estate broker had purchased six properties as an investment. The only problem was, based on their own written agreement, they couldn’t decide how the property should ultimately be divided. When all was said and done, it cost them over a year and a half of litigation and close to $100,000 each before we were able to resolve the issue.
Lawyers are trained to explore the nuance of words, which can be very ambiguous. While someone can really mean what they say and write down, it is possible that it could be interpreted several different ways. We are trained to look for gaps in an agreement, or things that can be misinterpreted to our client’s disadvantage.
We encourage our clients to communicate with us. If you have a filing or simple document that you believe you can do yourself, great. We can walk you through it. In other instances, we may recommend that we handle the drafting or filing the document. Either way we will always give you our honest assessment with your best interests in mind.
To address common concerns, we have a unique way of helping our clients. We offer flat fee Initial Case Evaluations at a reasonable price. These evaluations enable us to gain a full understanding of our clients’ concerns, hopes and fears, and the legal issues presented to us. Because the evaluation is based on a flat fee, we can take our time, and you are able to ask everything you need to. Often, a solution can be found quickly and easily.
If you have a question regarding a legal issue, please contact us. We will assess your issue and help find a solution that will get you the results you need. If you would like to talk, please contact us to schedule a Get Acquainted Call.