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Can I be my own lawyer in Columbia, South Carolina?

January 27, 2022

: Criminal Defense

Beth and Lowell Bernstein

No matter what kind of charge you’re facing or claim you’re filing, you’re going to need legal representation — but that representation can come in a variety of forms. In this article, we’ll answer one of the most common questions we get about the legal process: “Can I be my own lawyer?”

Do You Need a Lawyer in Columbia, SC?

No, generally you are not required to hire a lawyer in Columbia, SC. All adult citizens have the constitutional right to represent themselves in court. If you represent yourself, you’re called a “pro se,” “pro per,” or “self-represented” litigant — all of which mean you’re acting as your own attorney. 

However, being your own lawyer isn’t recommended. You’ll rarely achieve better results than you would if you worked with a licensed and experienced attorney — if you receive any results in your favor at all. Licensed, experienced professionals know the complex laws and processes specific to Columbia, SC so well that it’s difficult to proceed without them. 

Some believe that there are benefits to self-representation. In most cases, these are false benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of them: 

Myth #1: You’ll Save Money by Representing Yourself

While you may save money on lawyer fees by choosing to represent yourself, you’ll likely sacrifice a lot of money you could have earned with better representation. In most cases, the outcome you receive by representing yourself is less than ideal. Depending on the situation, you’ll either receive much less compensation than you deserve, or you’ll end up spending a lot more in fines that the judge imposes on you.

Myth #2: You Can Represent Yourself Best Because You Know Your Situation Best

Many people follow the thought process of “I know my situation best, so I can represent myself best.” While it’s true that you were the one who experienced the details of your case first-hand, it’s not always true that you can represent yourself best. Your familiarity with the circumstances doesn’t mean you are familiar with the legal system. You need someone who knows the details of laws and how they apply to your case. 

What You Need to Be Your Own Lawyer in Columbia, SC

If you do decide to be your own lawyer in Columbia, SC, you’ll need to prepare yourself properly for court. To do so, you’ll want to follow these guidelines:

  • Read about the law and how it applies to your case
  • Prepare the evidence that you will use in your case
  • Understand and follow all court rules and procedures
  • Keep track of all documents and deadlines
  • Know where your courtroom is located
  • Act and dress professionally in the courtroom
  • Be realistic about what the judge or jury can and cannot do
5 Main Reasons to Hire a Columbia, SC Lawyer for Legal Help

Being your own lawyer can be overwhelming, and it can often lead to less-than-ideal legal outcomes. In most cases, it’s much more beneficial to hire a Columbia, SC lawyer to represent you. Here are a few main reasons hiring a lawyer is often better than representing yourself: 

  1. The law is complicated and always changing. A licensed lawyer will be informed and up-to-date on it. 
  2. Lawyers know how to leverage evidence. While you may have evidence, they’ll know how to present it most effectively. 
  3. Lawyers are trained in negotiation. They’ll always work to get you the best outcome, whether that be minimized consequences or maximized compensation. 
  4. Lawyers have access to witnesses and experts you need on your side. They’ll know where to go, who to talk to, how to subpoena necessary witnesses, and how to prepare them for a court appearance that works in your favor. 
  5. The other party probably has legal representation. This would give them a big advantage if you chose to represent yourself. 

Looking for some legal help? Talk to our team at Bernstein & Bernstein. We’ll listen to you and make recommendations that best suit your needs. To get started working with one of our Columbia, SC lawyers, give our firm a call or contact us online.

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