Be Your Own Lawyer

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Many straightforward legal issues can be handled without a lawyer. Since every state functions autonomously, the first step you need to take is to understand your specific state’s rules and regulations in relation to that state’s laws. Two good places to start are with Law Help (www.lawhelp.org) and the American Bar Association’s (ABA) website (www.abanet.org). Both these sites will provide information on many legal topics, including self-representation, by state.

Your local library can also be a good resource for educating yourself, although you need to make sure that the advice is recent and applicable to your state. If recent law books are unavailable from your library, you can order them directly from companies which specialize in publishing self-help legal books, including Nolo Press (www.nolo.com). These self-help legal books are also widely available in bookstores.

Another place to get information is at your local court system. Local courts and county clerks, while not able to provide legal advice, can provide information on the required forms, fees and processes that need to be followed in their jurisdiction.

Examples of legal issues that can be handled alone range from estate planning (wills, powers of attorney, and probate), family law issues (adoption, uncontested divorce, immigration), disputes (small claims court, traffic tickets), and many more.

Given the large amount of money one could save by self-representation, it’s at least worth looking into whether or not you can do it yourself. Do keep in mind that, depending on your issue, you may need to spend a significant amount of time educating yourself so that you can represent yourself competently.