Not all legal cases require an attorney, such those in small claims court or when one’s fighting a seatbelt ticket. However, there are numerous situations in which an attorney is absolutely necessary. Cases that involve divorce, child custody, misdemeanors or felonies require experience and advice that only attorneys can provide.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to hire an attorney. My partner, Jake Gilbreath, and I understand the necessity of legal guidance – so much so that we are willing to represent clients for free. Our firm recently announced that for every woman who can afford to come through our door, we will represent one who can’t.
If our firm has been hired by a client, the general assumption is that the client has financial resources and the ability to seek legal representation. However, not everyone has the financial ability or knowledge of how to find help. Not all law firms will offer pro bono (a.k.a. free) services for your divorce, but those that take pride in knowing that they can ease the stress of someone going through divorce who wouldn’t otherwise be able to hire an attorney.
Hiring an attorney is a crucial decision, and one of the most important ones you will make during your divorce. Here are five reasons why it is wise to hire an attorney if your divorce or custody case is headed to court, further proving why we’re willing to offer our pro bono services.
1) Attorneys know how to challenge and/or suppress evidence.
If you don’t hire an attorney, you might miss out on the fact that evidence was improperly used against you. You also might not realize that one witnesses’ statement contradicts another witnesses’ statement. Oftentimes key facts such as this will slip between the cracks if a trained attorney is not on the case.
2) Attorneys are emotionally detached.
Court cases can get emotional, especially those involving family law or potential jail time. A good attorney understands the stress that comes along with a case and is able to provide support without getting emotionally invested or involved. Hiring an attorney to take care of all of the legal work will provide you more time to care for yourself and your family.
3) The law is complicated.
Attorneys spend three years in law school to study all of the aspects of the law, and they continue to learn throughout their career. From protocols to legal documents that a non-attorney is generally oblivious to, you’re guaranteed to stumble into paperwork issues if you go to court without legal counsel. One simple paperwork mistake could be incredibly disruptive, forcing the judge to delay or even dismiss the case.
4) Attorneys have a network of professionals to serve as expert witnesses.
Need a psychologist to be an expert witness? What about a CPA to determine the accuracy of a financial disclosure? Attorneys have valuable relationships with an extended network of respected professionals to call in for cases. Without an attorney, it is more difficult to find and hire an expert witness if one is needed.
5) Attorneys have experienced your situation before.
An experienced attorney has certainly worked on a similar case previously, or has a colleague that has done so. Thus, an attorney has a good understanding of the potential outcome and knows when it’s best to negotiate a settlement or accept a plea bargain. Experience and extensive knowledge of the law are key components to receiving the best outcome in a court case.
A partner at McCullar and Gilbreath, Janet McCullar is a nationally-respected trial attorney known for her skill and success in the courtroom. Based in Austin Texas, the firm offers pro bono services to women who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford legal counsel.