Is Pro Se Representation for you?
Reading time: 3 minutes.Is Pro Se representation for you? How do you sue someone when you’re not an attorney? How do you undertake the legal analysis required to evaluate your case? Can you take your dispute to Small Claims Court? What is alternative dispute resolution? Would the mediation process work for your dispute? These six steps will empower you to answer these questions and represent yourself:
1. The Legal System Has Embraced the Pro Se Litigant
The Coronavirus Pandemic was just the thing that caused the legal system to transform. When the attorneys, judges, parties, and witnesses can’t be in one another’s presence, something big had to give.
In the door came Zoom and other tools for self-represented parties who had difficulty maneuvering in complex systems requiring personal appearance and sophisticated choreography. Not only has ADR put legal solution in the grasp of the legal DIYer, but the courts are doing it big time! Let’s take a closer look at the Pro Se Litigant’s new toolchest.
2. Legal Analysis Is Now Available
The missing piece for the self-represented used to be legal analysis. No longer is this the case as we have become a Do-It-Yourself country. There are now several platforms, the most prominent being Lawsuit Analyzer, that will take you through the all-important legal evaluation process.
Online platforms (such as Freelancer, fiverr, upwork, justanswer) have paralegals and attorneys you can consult within a matter of moments for a reasonable fee. It’s almost like receiving free legal advice.
3. Mediation and Arbitration Now Caters to Self Representation
Alternative Dispute Resolution platforms got a big boost during the Pandemic making these forums more available to the Pro Se. Once you convince your adversary that it is in both of your interests to avoid the costly, adversarial court system, there are many ways to customize your ADR proceedings.
ADR is nothing like the court system where you must follow rigid rules. In ADR you and your adversary can set the stage for your dispute by choosing to be self-represented, limit the hearing duration, limit discovery, the hearing will be online or document-only, and much more.
4. Small Claims Court Is Built for The Pro Se Litigant
Self-representation is the concept behind Small Claims courts nationwide. Some states do not even allow attorney representation. It’s a quick and easy process that allows your dispute to be decided in a couple of months. This Small Claims Court resource will give you the necessary tools to forge ahead with your legal case.
5. Online Case Prep and Filing
Suing someone has become more of a click of your keyboard as online portals have emerged for the Pro Se Litigant to prepare, file and serve their Claims. Some portals, such as Guide and File even have interviews to guide you through the process.
Even online hearings popularized in ADR are beginning to emerge in the Small Claims Courts, removing both the intimidation and inconvenience factors associated with in-person hearings and scary courtroom atmosphere.
6. Legal Self-Help Portals
Nationwide most courts have now set up online portals rich with resources, including legal research, for the Pro Se Litigant to understand and follow legal protocol. California’s website is one of many. Small Claims Courts often have free Small Claims advisors to guide the self-represented parties, both plaintiff and defendant.