In this world of vast technology, easy access to information and instant gratification, it is easy for a layperson to gather “enough” information to make them feel like an expert in almost any subject. As a mom, I am guilty of searching WebMD prior to calling a doctor and doing intensive research on a vast number of other areas before meetings, interviews and most things that affect my kids. I am positive the professionals don’t appreciate me telling them how to do their jobs. As a lawyer, I find myself in this situation at least once a week (probably more like 3 times, but whose counting?) Where a client or potential client has called me with a complex issue that they have pre-researched and have already determined what the best course of action should be.
Why is this a pain point for most lawyers? Because, the internet very often provides incomplete and misleading information and clients very often take the information they find online as the complete truth. Prior to hiring a lawyer, clients often have determined what motions need to be filed, what information is relevant and how the case should play out. The problem is that the law is very complicated. Certain motions only apply to civil law and others only to criminal law. There are specific deadlines that must be followed and those deadlines change based on the type of case. Also, clients are often too close to their case, meaning they lack the ability to be objective. That’s why you hire a lawyer!
- – Lawyers are neutral parties. They don’t have a vested interest in the outcome of your case so they are able to objectively look at the facts of the case without any emotions.
- – Lawyers know how to use the law to your best advantage; what motions to file and when; what law applies; how to find relevant case law to help your case; and most importantly, how to conduct a successful trial.
- – Lawyers have access to materials and resources that most laypersons don’t, such as the newest and most relevant case law; access to other lawyers and think tanks; access to experts, etc.
- – Lawyers spend years training to become experts in our field, so the advice we give out is grounded in education and experience, rather than emotion and Google searches.
So what’s the point? Hire a lawyer that you trust to give you good advice, one who you believe is looking out for your best interest. Once you have hired that lawyer, TRUST her/him and take the advice you are given. Don’t undermine your case and your best chance at a good outcome by trying to outmaneuver the legal system on your own. Enjoy the stress-free ride as a layperson and allow your lawyer to do the heavy lifting. Second guessing and failing to follow your lawyer’s advice will only lead to upset and a case result that isn’t necessarily what you wanted.