Frequently Asked Legal Questions
SHOULD I GO TO COURT?
Most people are not named Simplot or Rockefeller and cannot afford to prosecute or defend lawsuits as a matter of principle. Instead, they need to know whether they can afford the cost of pursuing a lawsuit and whether the benefits to be obtained from that action justify the investment of time, expenses and energy involved in pursuing it. A lawsuit affects your life and possibly those of your loved ones. It is my job to help you make the best decisions that you can at each step along the way.
Litigation is inherently risky. Before you decide to file a lawsuit, you need to evaluate the issues and decide whether they should be pursued. There are lots of things to consider, such as (1) how strong your claim is; (2) what you can reasonably expect to accomplish by pursuing it; (3) does it make financial sense to pursue it; and (4) what are the personal and/or business risks involved in doing so. My job is to help you decide when it really makes sense to pursue your claim in light of the totality of the circumstances and when, after the claim has been filed, you have achieved all that you can reasonably expect by doing so.
No one likes to admit that he or she made a mistake. But if you are defending a lawsuit, you need to look hard at what has happened and determine whether the claimant has legitimate issues. If so, you need to decide what is the most effective and least expensive means of dealing with it. In evaluating these issues, you need to look at such factors as the costs of the defence, the chances that you might lose and the potential loss if that occurs. The claimant may not be reasonable. He or she may have an exaggerated view of the merits and value the claim. That, however, does not mean that you need to be equally unrealistic. My job is to help you evaluate all of the circumstances, decide whether the claim should be defended, how best to resolve it at a minimum of expense and decide when you have accomplished all that can be reasonable be expected in mitigating the loss.
SHOULD YOU REPRESENT YOURSELF?
One of the first choices that you have to make when getting involved in litigation is whether to hire a lawyer. Most lawsuits are not all that unique and are not “rocket science”. And it is usually theoretically possible for a client to represent himself or herself. (Note that corporations, limited liability companies and other business entities do not have that privilege.)
But, representing yourself requires a willingness and ability to spend the time necessary to learn the ins and outs of the issues involved in your case and the law that applies to them. If you cannot or do not spend the time necessary to learn all of this, you may overlook an issue that can win your case.
Representing yourself in court also requires knowledge of how to present your facts and arguments to the judge. Idaho law requires a judge to hold a person representing himself or herself to the same standards as a lawyer. You, therefore, cannot count on the judge to help you make your case. Hence, in addition to knowing the law relevant to your case, you have to know the procedural and evidentiary rules that allow you to explain yourself to the judge. Knowing what you want or need to say to a judge is not enough; you also need to know when and how to say it.
Representing yourself also requires an ability to think quickly and effectively on your feet in the middle of a hearing or trial. You have to be able to adjust your strategy “on the fly” if the evidence turns out to be different than what you had expected, or if the judge makes a ruling that you had not expected. If you cannot do this, you may overlook an alternative approach that will be more successful than that which you had originally intended to take.
If you are not confident that you can do all of this, you should hire a lawyer. Even if you can do it all, you may want to hire a lawyer to make sure that your emotions or moral convictions have not caused you to assess your case unrealistically. I did not represent myself in my own divorce for that reason.
If for any of the reasons discussed above, you want to hire a lawyer, I would appreciate the opportunity to help you.
Got More Questions? Contact Us
A lawsuit affects your life and possibly those of your loved ones. It is my job to help you make the best decisions that you can at each step along the way.