Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 29: Be Smart

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

The lesson I have been learning in my time working as a legal assistant is how important it is to have legal representation. Not just legal representation, good legal representation.  

I have by now witnessed firsthand the many, many flaws and broken parts of the legal system and I am convinced that I would never want to represent myself in a lawsuit if one was ever filed against me.  

Ignorance is most definitely not bliss when it comes to the law, and trying to defend yourself when the cards are stacked against you (and trust me, it hasn’t taken me long to discover the cards are stacked against you) rarely ends well. Happy endings make for good movies, but self-represented people (also known as pro se) don’t see many happy endings.  

I think that one reason why we like those “against all odds” movies is because it helps us believe things that make us feel better about ourselves and our circumstances. At some point or another in our lives, we all find ourselves unable to handle the truth that the system is broken, and that justice is too often hard to come by. So we latch on to the fantasies where things turn out well and they all lived happily ever after.  

I am not trying to be a “Debbie Downer” or prophesy of forthcoming doom in your particular case (if you are unfortunate enough to be proceeding pro se in a lawsuit), but the realities are that 1) the legal system is in major need of reform and 2) your best protection in and against a broken system is an honest, skilled lawyer who knows both the written and the “unwritten” rules that govern it.  

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