Articles Tagged with DIY lawyering

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“Thus sayeth the Librarian, over at Legal Research is Easy (where you can enjoy some of the best public law librarianship story (and truth) telling in the blogging business 🙂

Every public law librarian will recognize that sad tale told by, no, not an idiot, but quite the opposite: a Professional Law Librarian!

Lesson: Unless you’re willing to do ALL the research the law requires, ALL ALL ALL of it, don’t come crying to us (even from the grave). We don’t like to say “I told you so,” but gosh darn-it I will say it if you ignore me when I recommend, strongly, with or without a sigh, that you talk to a lawyer.

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There is a lot of legal self-help you can do that really is DIY (do it yourself), but if there is a lot of money at stake, property, children, parents, dependents, your credit rating, your reputation, your heirs or inheritance, or anything else that matters to you, please be a smart legal self-helper by doing thorough legal research or consulting a lawyer. (Or both!)

You may need only to consult a lawyer or find one to coach you through your case. And you need to find the right lawyer, so take the time and read about how to find and work with lawyers.

But it’s worth taking the time to find that lawyer. You never know when you might need to consult a lawyer again, on a debt problem, a business start-up, a neighbor dispute, a landlord-tenant problem, an estate plan, or a family legal problem.

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From the ABA Journal: “20 apps to help provide easier access to legal help,” by Joe Dysart, April 1, 2015.

Words to the Wise: DIY Lawyering can be risky – and expensive – if you have to pay a lawyer later to fix what you could have done correctly, and cost effectively, from the start. If you need to respond to a summons, draft a lease, a power of attorney, a contract, or a will, or take any legal action that requires you to know not only how to research the law, which rules of procedure to follow, and how the courts interpret the law, please consult an attorney. As a very wise lawyer/librarian says:

“If you read only what is written in the statutes, the cases, and the constitutions you will be absolutely wrong about what the law is.”

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Please do not be penny wise, pound foolish. Please! Public law librarians see these 2 things every day, day after day, week after week, month after ….:

1) Unrepresented litigants who have an expensive legal mess to clean up (IF it can be cleaned up) because they thought legal self-representation, without ever consulting a lawyer at all, was a good idea.

2) Lawyers who are, at great expense, representing people who thought the law was “all online” or DIY. It’s not, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.

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Oregon Landlord-Tenant Law is a lot more complicated than people imagine. Landlords and tenants should seek current and accurate legal information and, in most cases, get professional legal advice from a licensed Oregon attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law.

Everyone should do this BEFORE trouble strikes.

It’s a lot more expensive to fix a legal problem than it is to prevent one -just ask any landlord-tenant attorney – or any landlord or tenant who thought leases, evictions, and escrow accounts were subject to Common Sense Rules or the If it’s Online it Must Be OK “Rule” instead of the You Have to Research the Actual Law Rule. That person is now paying a lawyer lots of money to fix a problem that might have been avoided – or gnashing teeth over the Unjustness of the World. (Yes, life is sometimes unfair in your favor, but seldom when it comes to landlord-tenant law.)

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I’m an energetic advocate of DIY Legal Research (as are most public law library librarians) and a somewhat less than enthusiastic advocate of DIY Lawyering (aka self-help, self-representation, pro se litigation, pro per representation), especially for people who don’t have any research experience or aptitude for hours of study, note-taking, writing, preparation, decision-making, and the sense to consult experts when necessary (not to mention having the patience of a cat watching its prey).

I’ve learned over the years that the most successful self-help litigant isn’t necessarily the smartest person, though “smart” can help. But persistence, attention to detail, listening, patience, and good manners can often win out over “smart.

Our best pro se litigants consult attorneys. The litigants save money by thorough research, study, observation, taking chances and making mistakes, and not a small amount of luck. They also have lots of energy that is used staying up late drafting motions, answers, letters, and reading the law, in all its procedural and substantive glory.