Do I really need a lawyer?

In Virginia, you are allowed to represent yourself in almost all legal matters at the trial court level.  The only other person that can legally represent you is an attorney that is licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

However, you should be aware that a company is not a person – it is a legal entity that cannot stand or speak and it doesn’t need to drink when it gets thirsty.  What this means is that if your company is involved in a legal dispute, you will need to have an attorney represent the company in court.

Even in those situations where you CAN represent yourself, it is often a good idea to hire an attorney.

First of all, you are emotionally involved in the legal circumstance and we all tend to think differently, or not think at all, when our emotions are involved.  The attorney also gets involved in your case, but he/she is trained to present the arguments in a logical manner that will assist the court in deciding in your favor.

An attorney also knows what the court thinks is important and he/she will make sure that the court knows those things and not dwell on things that really aren’t important when the court makes their decision.  As an example, I had a DUI case where the driver told the officer that he had been drinking margaritas.  The driver thought he had a great defense because he had really been drinking whiskey sours.  The driver didn’t realize that it doesn’t really matter what he was drinking, the important part is that his blood alcohol content was over the legal limit.

Also, the courts have very specific ways in which things must be handled and if you don’t do it just right, it is possible that the court will dismiss your case or rule against you.  I know this sounds like the courts are set up to provide work for lawyers, but the rules are really there to keep the legal process moving smoothly.  If you’ve ever been to court on one of those days when the courtroom is packed with people waiting their turn, you can understand why it is important to have rules about how things are handled.

But, even if you need an attorney for part of the process you can often do other parts yourself.

We encourage people to go to court for a ‘return date’ themselves and hire us after that court date.  Why?  You can often sit for hours waiting for your case to be called only to go to the front and have the judge give you a date for the trial.  I will be glad to sit with you, but it can get very expensive to hire an attorney to sit for hours just to stand in front of the judge for 30 seconds to say ‘we dispute the charges’.

How do you know if there is something you can do yourself?  When I have a consultation with someone, I tell them what to expect and how I would proceed if it were my legal situation.  I also explain what parts they can do themselves and when they should hire a professional.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.