To Lawyer or Not To Lawyer

To lawyer up or not to lawyer up?

That is a difficult question. Whether you are entering a divorce, custody dispute, criminal defense, civil litigation, employment dispute, or bankruptcy case, the decision to retain legal counsel can be a challenging and potentially life-altering one. I have addressed the attributes and talents of a competent attorney in past articles on But the very choice of whether to pay the money to retain counsel can in itself be a difficult call.

Color me biased but having represented more than 2,000 clients in almost as many cases over the past 13 years, I have found great peril when laypeople try to prosecute their own case. Having said that, I rejoice when I go up against the opposition “pro se” (representing themselves). It’s fun to know the law and know the court and know the judge and see that the other side floundering since they know none of it. Having said that, many people cannot afford a high-priced law firm. In some cases, even though I am a solo practitioner and almost always charge far less than those fancy wood-grained firms, it still can be expensive to hire any competent attorney to represent a needy client in any of the types of cases listed above.

When considering whether the outcome of a divorce in ten years from now, the custody of your child, a prison sentence in a criminal case, a severance package in an employment case, or a complete discharge of debts in a bankruptcy, it is almost always wise to hire legal counsel. My law firm operates in more than 20 different county and municipal jurisdictions in Southwestern Ohio; many more than that if you add federal courts as well. They all want different forms at different times. Even within a given court, different judges can demand things differently. Seasoned professionals make mistakes and need to re-file pleadings from time to time.  Do you want to travel that gambit alone? Again, I am very biased, but as I tell my children “…think about how you want things to look a decade from now and walk in that direction without doubts or reservations”. In this context, don’t let short-term comfort lead to long-term pain. After all, this IS your life!

MJB, 5/15/2018

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