A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing
The average lawyer could probably become a decent nurse or heavy duty mechanic - with the right training and a bit of experience. Hopefully, most lawyers know that they need the training in order to change occupations.
When we talk about lawyers changing occupations, we can then think about the other side of that coin - the self-represented litigant - or, as many judges and lawyers might describe the situation: "the problem of the self-represented litigant.” This problem has many angles to it. There is the fact that many people feel that they cannot afford legal representation. There is the fact that many self-represented litigants cause problems for themselves because they have only a "little knowledge." (On the other hand, some of them do an excellent job.) There is the fact that the average self-represented litigant "consumes" more court time and court resources than do litigants who are represented by lawyers.
One rarely hears complaints about how complicated medicine is - or how complicated heavy machinery is. The complications are just a part of reality which we accept. On the other hand, people will complain about how complicated the law is – when, in reality, it is the complicated lives we lead which make the law complicated. People are complicated. Just ask anyone who's been in any kind of a relationship.
People sometimes think that litigants who are represented by lawyers have an unfair advantage. Yet, it would be strange to find that someone who is being guided by an expert would not have an advantage. In British Columbia, our lawyers go to law school for three years and do a form of internship (called "articling") for the better part of another year.
It is the training which allows the lawyer who goes to court to know what the judge wants to hear. There is a saying amongst lawyers that when one goes to court, one should "be prepared, be brief and be gone." It is their education which allows lawyers to prepare appropriately and say only what needs to be said. Usually, the self-represented litigant tends to say too much about what is not important and too little about what is important. Self-representation is a problem and it is important to our justice system that we find a solution.
Article written by Centennial Law Corp.