Can a Lawyer Help with Small Claims Court?

Many smaller legal issues can be handled in Small Claims Court. If the damages that are at issue in your legal matter are less than $10,000, Small Claims Court may help you to save time and money. Since Small Claims Court involves a judge and a court hearing, you might think that getting the best result will involve hiring a lawyer to represent you. 

Although you can hire a lawyer to coach you through your Small Claims Court case, you cannot hire a lawyer to represent you in that case. When you hire a lawyer for coaching, the lawyer can help you decide if you should sue in Small Claims Court, can help you to organize your case and can coach you on how to present your case in court. However, the lawyer you hire for coaching cannot appear in court for you. Here, the lawyer cannot “argue” your case to the Small Claims Court judge. 

Hiring a lawyer to coach you can mean the difference between winning or losing in small claims court. The lawyer can advise you on what documents you should and shouldn’t use in your case. Although Small Claims Court cases may be informal, a lawyer can coach you on the types of things you should avoid saying, how to tactfully make you case, whether you should include witnesses in your case, and generally how to present yourself in court. 

How much does Small Claims Court coaching from a lawyer cost? This might be an important question in deciding if you should sue in Small Claims Court to begin with. As there is relatively little work involved in coaching, your lawyer may limit the amount of time for coaching and may charge as little as a few hundred dollars for coaching. Here, learning as much as you can about Small Claims Court before hiring a lawyer for coaching could save you money on coaching. 

A lawyer may help you decide if you should sue in Small Claims Court to begin with. Many who sue in Small Claims Court are surprised to find, when they “win,” that it can be difficult to collect on the court’s judgment. Just because a person or business has been harmed by another, it does not mean that the party who loses in Small Claims Court can afford to pay. Here, a lawyer may be able to help you assess whether suing in Small Claims Court will be with the trouble.

Finally, a lawyer may be able to help you decide if, instead of suing in Small Claims court, you should attempt to mediate. Typically, Small Claims Court judges will require that the parties to case attempt to settle their dispute by mediation before presenting the case in court. If you can mediate the dispute before filing in Small Claims Court, you may be able to save time, money, and effort in administrating your Small Claims Court case.


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