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Why You Shouldn’t Represent Yourself in Court

by Sara C
should you represent yourself in court

It is becoming more common with so much information at our fingertips that people think they are equipped to represent themselves in court. While you might be able to figure out some legal terms regarding your case, being able to successfully represent yourself is a whole other ball game even with the benefits of being a lawyer it requires much more than legal knowledge.

In this article, we’re going to give you some important points if you’re considering representing yourself in court as well as highlight some important parts of the process to give you a better understanding of the system.

Exploring the risks of representing yourself in court

Litigation can be daunting enough even with the support of legal professionals such as lawyers helping you alone, if you’re confident in your legal abilities that’s one thing but try to consider the bigger picture before representing yourself. Let’s look at some of the risks you might face from self-representation.

Lack of Legal Knowledge

Courts operate using an intricate system of rules and procedures that go beyond the fundamental knowledge you might think you already know about the legal system. There is a reason why the knowledge and experience of qualified lawyers are held in such high regard because this experience is not attained easily.

You might be able to get through your proceedings understanding the case from a theoretical level but there are also components of the process as a whole you might have missed. This also doesn’t mean you’ve covered all bases and it is rather common for self-represented individuals to miss out on important parts of information throughout their hearings.

Emotional Involvement

Another difficulty many don’t really consider is the amount of emotional turmoil you’re going through when facing litigation. This can severely impact the way you’re handling the case as it’s difficult to step back emotionally and assess the situation from an objective standpoint. It is why many individuals even with a legal background prefer to hire lawyers, this is because they are able to sit back while someone can look at their case from a different angle.

Risk of Being Overwhelmed

The legal system is extremely high-pressure and the stress of court is enough for most people so taking care of your own matter might be even more overwhelming no matter what your stress tolerance is like. You need to consider more than just the case and facts, the ability to present and speak well under pressure as well as the ability to navigate with stakeholders can easily make you overwhelmed.

Potential for Increased Costs

You might think that self-representation is the cheaper option because you don’t have to face the lawyer’s fees but there is no guarantee you’re going to win the case even if you think you’re in the right. The possibility of the case being extended and added costs is very real and with self-representation, you might not have the right experience and skills to deal with these scenarios.

Limited Negotiation Skills

Negotiation skills are often underlooked in the court of law, when we hire lawyers we pay for them to be convincing and negotiate on our behalf. You might have the best case in the world but if you don’t have the ability to appropriately communicate your case and be persuasive in the process then you might not do as well as you think. These speaking and persuasive abilities are crucial so be prepared if you want self-representation.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer Instead of Self-Representation

Hiring a lawyer instead of self-representation comes with an array of benefits and we recommend you weigh up these advantages depending on your individual case and knowledge. Making this decision can be a make or break in your case so ensure you spend some time with careful consideration.

The reason many hire lawyers is first because they possess a deep understanding of the law through their years in academia, this level of knowledge simply isn’t attainable through other sources. You might miss out on certain points that they pick up on and decide on different strategies based on their own personal knowledge. They’re also able to understand the entire court system as a whole as they’ve communicated with various stakeholders before making the process more effective and efficient.


Representing yourself in court is certainly not for the faint of heart, the countless hours understanding the law and risks make it an underestimated endeavour for many. If you’re focused and ready to take on all these points and know what you’re doing then you do have a possibility for success. But if you’re not prepared or a little uncertain then it’s best to hire a professional. Good luck.


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