“He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” — Abraham Lincoln
This phrase remains as applicable today as it was 200 years ago when said. Mostly attributable to Abraham Lincoln, the above quote may have had earlier origins. In the context of our famous President, who was also a lawyer, he means that a lawyer should not represent himself or herself in court. The overriding principle is the loss of objectivity, the inability to see both sides of the equation, and, worse, to be consumed with punishing a perceived wrong.
However, the above quote also has universal application. Stated alone, you are taken more seriously when qualified people speak for you. Fundamentally, it relates a perception that you have other people on your side, which is important because it often feels like a David v. Goliath situation. Also, it sends a message that you are willing to take this matter further if needed.
In litigation, a qualified attorney is a necessity. Your chances of being taken seriously without are slim to none. Interview as many as possible and retain the one who has the factual and legal capacity to understand the claim, has the resources and time to do so, and most importantly, cares about you as a client.
While the right to represent oneself is provided for in both civil and criminal proceedings, legal matters can be complex and quite the challenge for someone with no formal education or training in the law. We are all human and humans have emotions. Emotions can cloud even the best of judgment, especially when you are talking about things of financial nature. When personally invested, emotions combined with the complexities of the situation make it obvious that professional help is necessary.
Another layer to personal representation to consider is, whether you’re hiring a property damage attorney or a licensed public adjuster, the experts are an important piece of the puzzle. For litigation purposes, anything outside of “common knowledge” requires the hiring of an expert. Specialists and/or experts have one thing certain in common, years of education and training in their area of expertise that can be used objectively in the given situation.
Representing oneself is likely to end badly. Just because you have the time to handle a complicated property damage claim on your own absolutely doesn’t mean that you should. Attorneys who handle these types of cases work on a contingency fee which means you have no out of pocket expenses and they get paid when the case is settled. So, if you aren’t paying anything out of pocket, then why wouldn’t you hire an experienced attorney to handle the matter for you?