Do-it-yourself lawyers: saving money and gaining empowerment in California divorce

A recent New York Times article starts off by saying, “America’s courts are built on a system of rules and procedures that assume that almost everyone who comes to court has a lawyer. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different…Litigants who cannot afford a lawyer, … are on their own — pro se. What’s more, they’re often on their own in cases involving life-altering situations like divorce, child custody and loss of shelter.”

THIS is why I do what I do. The vast majority of family law litigants do not have lawyers, and they need help. They need help finding out what their case is all about (what are they entitled to? How do they get there?), how to fill out documents, how to appear before the court, and how to complete their case and be successful.

The article is here: New York Times Article.

Before, attorneys were only permitted to act on an all or nothing basis. We could represent clients in every aspect, or not at all. This helps the pocketbooks of lawyers, but not clients very much. It also doesn’t help the inherent underlying conflict between attorney and client: Resolving a case informally is most often better for the client and is MUCH, MUCH less expensive than litigation. Moving forward with litigation is easier and MUCH, MUCH more lucrative for the attorney. This presents a problem for attorneys and clients that isn’t often talked about, and can lead to problems for both.

Working on an as-needed or hourly basis with family law clients, family law attorneys are able to work in perfect concert with clients, giving them precisely what they need and presenting all the available options with no attachment to any of them. Clients not only are able to save money and learn what options are best for them, they are empowered to direct their own case, and the resolution thereof. Studies indicate unanimously that litigants who actively participate in the direction and resolution of their own case are the most satisfied and happiest with the outcomes.

We are a nation in which the fairness of the process means a great deal. Representing yourself with a well-qualified coach can make the process work for anyone involved in a family law case.