Litigants In Person - We ignore them at our peril.
Whilst the concept of individuals/ businesses representing themselves in our legal system is not a new one, it is becoming an issue which as professionals we are unwise to ignore.
A combination of a pressured financial situation, along with the well-documented reduction of Legal Aid ( especially in the family area of law ), has led to a noticeable increase of litigants-in-person.
When faced with mounting costs, people increasingly feel that they have no option other than to attempt to do a lawyer's job themselves. Whilst someone will know the facts of their own individual case undoubtedly better than anyone else though, this does not necessarily equip them for the legal process.
We here at Vines Legal have had reports of people feeling completely - and understandably - out of their depth when faced with courtroom etiquette, dealing directly with other barristers and when trying to understand a whole system in an impossibly short space of time.The legal jargon alone can be enough to alienate someone not in the know!
Attempting to come to terms with everything necessary for self-representation can be so consuming that it negates whatever the individual is actually trying to achieve. To avoid greater disillusionment with the judicial system in this country, and indeed any further damage to its credibility with the public in general, the legal profession needs to consider this growing problem.
There are no straightforward answers to the issues highlighted above. Perhaps the most helpful thing we as lawyers can do is commit to being as direct and to-the-point as possible on behalf of our clients. To get straight to the heart of the legal matter, avoiding time-wasting and legal "treading of water " and give the very best and most pertinent service to our clients.
Before you make any individual or commercial decisions to go it alone, it is surely worth a discussion with those qualified to give you an indication of where that will lead you.
By Claire Clark on 14 Jan 2013, 13:35 PM