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The Disadvantages of Not Hiring a Lawyer

Some people think that they can avoid hiring a lawyer by doing it themselves or that they can hire a lawyer at a later stage in the case to save money. What they do not realize is that there are many disadvantages of not hiring a lawyer and they are probably hurting their case by representing themselves.

Some disadvantages of not hiring a lawyer:

  • You are probably making it more difficult to win your case.
  • If you do later hire a lawyer, then it becomes more difficult for the lawyer to defend you.
  • The mistakes you make may cause the lawyer to spend more time than necessary as compared to if the lawyer handled the case from the beginning.
  • It may end up causing the case to be more expensive
  • The case can take much longer to resolve.
  • You might accidentally submit evidence that can hurt your case. Keep in mind that good lawyers know how to deal with and challenge bad evidence. At times they may even get such evidence suppressed. Meaning that they can get that evidence thrown out. These are only things that a skillful attorney would be able to handle for you.
  • Lawyers understand court procedures and know how to correctly file documents on time. If you make a mistake with your filing, or you file your papers late, then you could really hurt your case or completely lose.
  • You are also at a disadvantage because your adversary most likely has a lawyer.

To illustrate the point, here are some examples of mistakes people have made by not hiring a lawyer:

Case #1:

An immigrant decided to file her N-400 form without the assistance of an attorney. She thought the form was simple and all she had to do was read the instructions for the form.

The problem was that she filed her form too early. She did not realize that she had too many trips outside the United States. USCIS rejected her application and ended up keeping her filing fee. She wanted to get a refund of this money. However, she learned the hard way that there are no refunds for this type of mistake. She lost $725.00.

When she later files, she will have to pay an additional $725.00 (or more, depending on whether the filing fee has increased later on). Had she hired a lawyer from the beginning she would not have made this mistake, and it would have been cheaper for her.

Case #2

A business owner decides to file his trademark application. He thinks the application is simple. However, a few months later he receives a notice saying there is an opposition to his trademark filing. He failed to understand the significance of this. He thought that by writing a simple letter to the USPTO disputing some of the claims the USPTO would decide in his favor. His application was rejected because a simple letter could not fix this problem. A proper response to the opposition requires far more than a simple letter. It requires legal research and strategy. He lost his trademark and his filing fee of $325.00.

Had he hired a lawyer to give a proper response to the opposition he might have been able to save his trademark filing. Instead, he lost several months and $325.00. He also had to change his business cards, his letterhead, and website due to the lost trademark, resulting in even more money wasted.

Case #3

A business owner decided to represent herself in the sale of her business for $100,000.00. She was offered a cash payment for the sale. She thought that was great because she could report fewer taxes owed to the IRS. The terms of the business sale called for her receiving two payments. The first payment was the down payment due at the business closing, and the second payment was due two months later. She drafted a letter which both the seller and buyer got notarized. The business owner thought this would be enough to protect her interests in the business sale. She also thought that doing a cash sale would save her money. She planned to reduce the sale price when reporting. This way she could keep more of the money.

At the closing, she received the first payment (the down payment) of $50,000.00. Two months later, she returns to collect her second payment. But when she went to collect the second payment, the buyer (the new owner) claims that he gave the payment to her partner and fellow co-owner. She is shocked and tells him that she does not have a business partner.

So now the buyer claimed to have made the second payment. And the business owner has lost her ability to collect her second payment. In effect, she sold her old business to the new owner for the mere $50,000.00 down payment price instead of the $100,000.00 that she was owed. Since she agreed to a cash sale, she had no proof that she did not receive the money. She was not able to call the police to assist her with this. Had she hired a proper attorney she would have been advised of the dangers of doing this transaction in cash. She would have been properly protected. And she would have received all her payments by check or wire transfer with a proper record and proof of what was paid to her.

Case #4

A business owner is sued for a collections case. He and his partner decide that they will not hire a lawyer to defend their case. Instead, they will deal with the lawsuit themselves. A court date before the judge is scheduled. One of the owners flies in from California to New York to defend the case.

His creditor hired an attorney who showed up to the court hearing. When the case is called, the creditor’s lawyer asks the judge to enter a default judgment against the business owners despite the fact that one of them showed up. What the business owner did not realize was that, because his business was set up as a corporation, he and his partner were required under New York law to be represented by a lawyer. Thus, the judge entered a default judgment against them. Now they only had two options. Pay the judgment or hire a lawyer to file a motion to try to vacate the judgment and then defend the lawsuit on its merits once the case was reopened. It would have been cheaper for them to just hire the lawyer in the beginning while they still had the chance to answer the lawsuit. Now they would have to pay a lawyer to do this and file a motion to vacate the default judgment. The motion is an additional expense and would not have been necessary had they hired a lawyer immediately.

In short, there are many disadvantages to not hiring a lawyer. Deciding to not hire a lawyer can cause you more trouble in the end.