Should You Act as Your Own Lawyer?

We’ve all seen a few law shows in our time. Whether it’s Law and Order, Judge Judy, or any other program, you probably feel like you’ve picked up some helpful bits of legal advice. But do you think that you are knowledgeable enough to defend yourself in a court of law? In our legal system, one always has the right to personally defend themselves against the law, instead of taking a court-approved attorney or hiring an defense lawyer. Doing so is said to be acting pro se, a Latin term defined as “for oneself; on one’s own behalf; without a layer”. A pro se defense is not common, and for good reason—one’s chances of achieving legal success are much higher with a trained defense lawyer at their side. While there are some success stories about prisoners becoming savvier than their appointed public defenders, by and large choosing a pro se defense is inadvisable. Pros The two most commonly sited advantages of a pro se defense are: A pro se defense eliminates the costs associated with hiring an attorney, saving a defendant a lot of money. The defendant is very familiar with the ins and outs of the evidence and subject matter of the case, which provides them with an advantage with mounting a legal defense. However, when considered closely, these perceived benefits both have unintended consequences that mitigate any real benefit. For example, saving money by neglecting to hire an attorney can save you money initially, but losing a court case will likely result in heavy fines and associated costs that can easily nullify your savings. Also, having a strong understanding of a case does not mean that you have a strong understanding of how to defend yourself within the confines of the law. This is the real advantage attorneys have: They know how to use the legal system. Cons Beyond the implicit disadvantages described above, there are other reasons not to choose a pro se defense. There are many aspects of courtroom proceedings (such as how to make objections or how to enter evidence) that become quite problematic for an untrained defendant. This lack of training may also come out in a less refined argumentative style. Lastly, the inescapable downside of a pro se defense is the issue of bias. As your own defender, your objectivity will be under intense scrutiny. Even under the best circumstances (assuming you do everything right, mechanically speaking), you may still find yourself on the wrong end of a decision simply because of the uncertainty that this bias can create. Ultimately, if you are left with no other choice, then a pro se defense is better than nothing. However, since we have the right to a public defender in any legal case, you should consider a pro se defense as the absolute last resort. No related...

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FAWL Launches ‘Board Certification Boot Camp’ for Women Lawyers

Becoming a Florida Bar board certified attorney is certainly no easy feat. According to the Florida Bar, board certification recognizes attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice, which suggests that there’s additional pressure imposed on lawyers who aspire to become board-certified.   Florida Bar President Gregory Coleman explains that “Board certification is one of the highest recognitions a lawyer in Florida can receive,” of the prestigious nature of the board certified status. He continues, “The very difficult testing and extensive background peer review to confirm professional conduct is such a high standard that just seven percent of our eligible membership has achieved this level of recognition.” With so many facets of the board certification process weighing on attorneys’ knowledge of the law as well as their history of professional ethics, it’s important that Florida-based attorneys have access to resources to guide them. One such resource can be found via the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL), whose Palm Beach County Chapter recently announced the launch of a new program called “Board Certification Boot Camp.” This “Boot Camp” was designed to educate women lawyers on the benefits and criteria for becoming Florida Bar board certified.   According to the Town-Crier Online, after conducting research on gender statistics with the Florida Bar, FAWL chapter leaders learned that the gender gap for board certification in the state of Florida is 80 percent men and only 20 percent women. The discovery of this significant gender disparity is what led to the FAWL’s creation of the “Board Certification Boot Camp,” which will consist of a series of educational programs designed to provide more information about how to become board certified, as well as to assist qualified female lawyers in their application process.   “Our chapter is committed to developing innovative programs for our members, and the Boot Camp program is the latest example of these efforts,” FAWL President Lindsay Demmery remarked. Since its founding in 1951, FAWL has been committed to advancing women in law by providing more opportunities and advocacy initiatives to help them achieve successful careers in the legal profession. The newly developed “Board Certification Boot Camp” certainly aligns with the ethos of the organization, and will hopefully contribute to more women lawyers becoming board certified in the state of Florida and beyond.     For further reading on board certification and women in law, here are some key resources:   Florida Bar Board Certification – What does it mean?   Florida Association for Women Lawyers Official Site   Big Data reveals big gender inequality in Big Law – Article Related posts: Top Resources from the Florida Bar The Depiction Of Lawyers in Media Becoming Resilient is Key For Young...

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