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5 reasons not to represent yourself in court

The risks of self-representation, or appearing “pro se” in a Nevada court, are likely not worth the very little benefit.

According to the Self-Represented Litigation Network, approximately three in five people will show up to court without an attorney for a civil case. While some people in Nevada may have success in going "pro se," the truth is that the cards are typically stacked against these people.

While plaintiffs and defendants certainly have the right to go it alone, experts recommend against doing so. Here's why:

1. The need for unbiased support

One of the primary reasons to hire an attorney is to receive impartial advice. In any legal matter, be it a business issue, the sale of a home or asset protection, it is possible for emotions to cloud someone's judgment. Additionally, lawyers know how to handle the stress of the courtroom, especially when things do not go as planned.

2. Procedural rules

The Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure is long. It details every step of the process. There are rules regarding what happens before, during and after a trial. Most people are not familiar enough with these guidelines to sufficiently represent themselves in court. Further, a judge will not give a "pass" to someone because he or she decided to go pro se.

3. Knowledge of the law

Procedure aside, the codes that govern every legal practice area in existence are immense. It takes years for attorneys to learn the law, and they are constantly taking steps to stay abreast of emerging trends, case law and other issues that affect their clients. The everyday person's knowledge of the law would pale in comparison to what an attorney has to offer.

4. Self-incrimination

Many people who hear the term "self-incrimination" likely think of a defendant in a criminal case mistakenly admitting to the charges. However, self-incrimination could happen in any issue. Essentially, people without attorneys could make statements that hurt their case without even realizing it.

5. There is much at stake

While there are some cases that may be appealed, there is rarely a "do-over" when it comes to the courtroom. If a pro se claimant makes a mistake and is unhappy with the outcome, he or she may not get another chance to make it right. Depending on the case, there may be money, property and business at stake. In the end, the possibility of losing valuable items is likely not worth the money that could be saved in forgoing an attorney.

The law permits people to walk into a courtroom pro se, and attorneys are not a requirement, but anyone considering this option should be award of the risks. People who wish to know more about this topic should speak with a litigation attorney in Nevada.

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Law Offices of P. Sterling Kerr, P.C.
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Henderson, NV 89074

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