ECU-SLS is an advisory service that does not provide in court representation. We can provide you with advice on a large number of issues including how to go about handling minor and routine matters. There are, however, many occasions when we are asked by students if they need a lawyer to represent them in court on a particular matter.
The simple answer is that it is a matter of personal choice. However, there are many advantages to having an experienced lawyer represent you that make it very worthwhile to seriously consider hiring a lawyer to represent you and protect your interests.
In traffic and criminal matters: Often, lawyers can appear on your behalf by way of waiver so that you will not have to attend court. They can easily obtain a record check for you in traffic or criminal cases and know the policies of the different assistant district attorneys or judges who appear in court on a given day. Most importantly, lawyers know the rules of evidence and procedure. While you may believe that you have a valid defense you must ask yourself if you know how to present that defense or how to prepare a plea in mitigation if you are found or plead guilty. While there is no hard and fast rule, the more serious the charge the greater the need for a lawyer; as one local judge once said “you can do anything by yourself, including trying to remove your own appendix, but it is not a smart thing to do”. Any criminal record can have a negative impact on you in life. Many times hiring a lawyer will save you time and money and get you a better result.
In civil cases: As above, you should consider knowledge of rules and procedures and the complexity of the case. Civil cases are notoriously complex, especially when they get above the small claims court level. There may be statute of limitations questions as well as discovery issues to consider. Again, it is a personal choice but hiring a lawyer can save you time, money and provide you with a certain degree of stress reduction.