By: the Millennial Esquire
My first day of court as a solo attorney I represented a client who was charged for reckless driving. My client was facing potentially up to year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine simply for being involved in an accident. Crazy right, I know. So I walked into Justice County Court, something I’ve done many times before in my previous employment and I noticed that I was shaking with fear that if I wasn’t at my best, my client could lose his freedom. Ultimately I was able to work out a deal with the prosecutor where my client would plead to a lesser charge, avoiding significant points on his license and pay a fine. My client was satisfied and I was relieved that I had not messed up my first case as a solo attorney. I have to thank a lot of the more experienced attorney’s at the Justice Courthouse who helped me navigate my way through that endeavor.
After my experience I thought to myself, why would anyone go to trial without a trial lawyer. I had years of legal training from law school and beyond and I was still shaking in fear. It made me think, how nervous the individuals who decide to forego hiring or being appointed an attorney may feel on the day of trial. So I compiled a list, not at all exhaustive, of 5 reasons to hire a trial lawyer to represent you in court:
1. You do not know the rules of Evidence. Every court has rules for when and how evidence can be introduced. Some of these rules most ordinary people (and first year law students), may not understand, it is important that you hire an attorney that knows these rules so that you aren’t faced with objection after objection from an opposing party that has hired counsel.
2. Doctors perform surgery, engineers build buildings, Trial Lawyers try cases. Okay, I get it, a trial lawyer is not saving anyone’s life, per se, or engineering a building, but they do protect your rights and freedoms. Do you really want to risk losing your money, freedom, privilege to drive or a job because you decided not to hire a trial lawyer? Think about the lasting effect that may have on your life. I see it everyday, someone not being able to obtain a job because of a mistake they made 5 years ago. Is that worth the risk? A trial lawyer could help you obtain a better outcome. Although not guaranteed, hiring a trial lawyer at least gives you the best chance to win.
3. You have no idea what “the preponderance of the evidence” or “totality of the circumstances” means. If you do, maybe you don’t need a trial lawyer, but most of my clients have no idea what that means. Most give me a blank stare (insert funny blank stare meme) as if I’m speaking a foreign language. Well, I am speaking a foreign language, its called legalese. This is what trial lawyers speak each day. We breathe this, we lose sleep over it and it justifies our existence. The English language is complicated enough, but lawyers created an entire dialect to articulate how persuasive evidence needs to be to prove a case.
4. Law and Order is not real life. While watching TV with my wife, I frequently find myself saying, “how did they get to trial the day after arraignment”. If anyone knows anything about the New York Criminal Court system, nothing moves that fast. Other courtroom dramas give society an unrealistic expectation that their lawsuit will be resolved in weeks (insert Willie Wonka meme here). This is precisely why you need a trial lawyer, to sit you down and explain that justice takes time, 1, 2, or maybe 5 years or more depending on the complexity of your case.
5. OJ Did it! Yes I said it. As a black attorney, I said it, Orenthal James Simpson did commit robbery and kidnapping. Do I agree with the 33 year sentence, no, but the court of law did find him guilty. As for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, according to the justice system, her killer has yet to be brought to justice. This is how our court system works, you cannot be punished for a crime unless you have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Do you think OJ would have been found not guilty if he hadn’t hired a trial lawyer?
The Millennial Esquire is a trial lawyer practicing in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia.