Legal Information

Choosing and Working with a Lawyer

Do I need a lawyer to represent me in court?

Although a lawyer may not be absolutely necessary, having a knowledgeable lawyer who will fight for you in court can change the whole legal experience for you.  It can be intimidating to speak up in front of a judge or to know what your legal rights are in the court process if you are representing yourself.

A person who wants to file a case in court should be able to get the necessary forms from the courthouse or online from the state's courts website.   For civil protection orders, the forms are often designed to be filled out by a person without a lawyer and can be fairly straight-forward.  However, for cases that are more complicated, such as divorce, filling out the forms correctly and knowing what to write in the forms to try to get the best outcome can be challenging to do alone.  Also, once the court case has begun, the other party involved may file legal papers (motions) that need to be answered in a certain legal format, which can be difficult to do without a lawyer.

A lawyer can be especially important if the other party has a lawyer and/or if the case cannot be resolved and the judge is going to hold a hearing or trial.  There are complicated “rules of evidence” that spell out what type of statements, documents, or other evidence can be admitted (accepted by a judge) in court, which a lawyer would know.