Pro Se Negligence

Is it negligent to represent yourself in a court of law without any special training or legal knowledge? Just how much risk do you assume by appearing before a judge without a proper representation by a counsel? Which is more unreasonable: running up a legal bill or risking losing a suit altogether?

As a New York Times article points out, more and more people are representing themselves in court. Words like bankruptcy, repossession, eviction, and foreclosure have become staple vocabulary in evening news if not in our own daily lives.

I just got my first taste of appellate advocacy this week at school this week through the 1L moot court competition. Appearing before a panel of “fake” judges was nerve-wracking enough. And that is with at least good eight months of legal training and a month of intense preparation. I cannot imagine an average Joe or Jane having to appear before a real-life judge against a licensed attorney hired by the big, bad corporation.

The irony of it all is that the government (and ultimately the tax payers) foots the legal bill for those who defend themselves in a criminal proceeding but not for any civil suits. So those who may be guilty of bigger fault are afforded more help by the government.

At times like these, I wish I was already licensed to give legal counsel to those who cannot afford a lawyer. Alas… I must pass my classes (and eventually the bar exam) first.