Friday, July 5, 2013

Why I think you should hire a lawyer to help you with your legal problem

When I have a plumbing problem, I hire a plumber.  I usually try all the easy home remedies and if they don't work, then I call in an expert.  I don't try to do it myself.

When my car makes a "funny" noise or it needs an oil change, I take it to my mechanic.  I don't try to do it myself.  Why? Because he is able to do it quicker, faster and my cleaner than I am able to do it.  I tried changing the oil myself years ago and I learned that I prefer to pay him to do it for me - it's worth the money!

When I have a legal question and it is regarding something that I'm not sure about, I call someone that handles that area of the law on a daily basis.  Why? Because laws change.  I went to law school 25 years ago -- things have changed.  When I went to law school there were no laptop computers, the internet was dial-up...damn I sound really old!

So I assume that you did not go to law school.  I bet your friends and family did not go to law school. Your friends and family love and care about you.  They give you lots of advice.  Most of their advice is wrong or it is out-of-date.  What happened in your parent's divorce 40 years ago might not happen today. What happened in your best friend's neighbor's sister's divorce probably did not actually happen!

I've practiced law over 22 years in the State of Texas.  Each divorce that I've done is unique.  The people are each different, their children are unique and the facts are never the same.  So I can't predict what will happen in your particular case.

I actually purchased a crystal ball when I worked at Houston Volunteer Lawyers because people kept asking me to make psychic predictions about their future - I don't make predictions.

No ethical family law attorney will guarantee the outcome of your case.  An attorney will review the facts, look at the law, and make a judgment based on logic and their "gut instinct" (experience).  So you might talk to 10 different lawyers and get 15 different answers since lawyers usually weight and assess the strength of each case.  Every case has at least 2 sides.  As Judge Georgia Dempster, of blessed memory, used to say, "Even the thinnest pancake has 2 sides."

You might think you can do your family law case yourself.  Divorce, custody, child support, etc. are complex cases.  You can certainly read the Texas Family Code which is available on-line for free.  The TX legislature modifies it every odd year (2013 being the lastest).

Plus, you are held to the same standard to know all the court rules & laws as any attorney.  So you must also know how to submit evidence to the Judge and how to make objections, etc.  You can go to any law library and read the TX Rules of Evidence.  Plus, most counties have Local Rules of Court.  Each court might also have their own set of Court Rules.  It is your obligation to know these too if you choose to try to do your own lawsuit.  (Note: these can change at any time without notice.)

Court employees are not attorneys and they are not allowed to practice law.  They are not allowed to give legal advice.  (Note: If they give you "hints" try to listen carefully to them!) They are required to accept any pleading that you hand them.  That means if you hand them a blank piece of paper they must accept it.  It does not mean the judge will sign it!

Judges cannot help you since they agreed NOT to practice law from the bench when they took their oath of office.

The attorneys and judges do not know what to do with the current high volume of pro se litigants.  The legal profession is wrestling with how to handle pro se litigants.  Pro se litigants are slowing down the court dockets.  It is frustrating the judges, court staff and attorneys.  The legal profession wants to make this work for everyone, but no one can figure out what to do to make it work.  Committees have been working for years on this subject without success.  Unfortunately, there is not enough money to provide free attorneys to help pro se litigants at the courthouse.  Pro se litigants are unhappy too.

In summary, if you want to get your case handled quickly the first time, just hire an attorney.

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