What To Do If You Can't Afford a Lawyer to Represent You
Find a Lawyer Who Coaches People to Represent ThemselvesMany states allow attorneys to offer "unbundled" legal services. This is like all the tasks of a lawyer are broken out so a client can select only the tasks with which he or she wishes attorney assistance. It is like being in a cafeteria where one can go through the line and choose only the dishes one wants to eat. When attorneys offer unbundled legal services, the client only pays for the services rendered by the attorney. This enables a client to do some of the work him or herself and reserve the complicated activities for the attorney.
Get Fill-in-the-Blank Documents for Your CaseYou are going to need the legal documents for your case. Many states have these documents on the state court website and courts often sell packets with the court documents ready to be completed by pro se parties. Some attorneys also sell "do it yourself" packets. Once you get your documents, make a copy so you have a draft copy. Once you have filled out the draft copy as best as you can, make an appointment with your coaching attorney to go over your responses. After your attorney meeting, you can put the correct information into the saved set of documents. Many coaching attorneys will also tell you what to do if you have to go to court to a hearing. Some may even be willing to file a notice of limited appearance to be there as your attorney for that hearing, then after the hearing, you go back to representing yourself.
Err on the Side of More Information--Not Less!Sometimes people representing themselves don't want to bother their coaching lawyer. They are concerned about costs. The problem with this is that you "don't know what you don't know." You can miss something important and not even know it. Make sure you have your coaching lawyer's phone number and email address so you can ask questions as you go. The benefit of having a coaching lawyer is that you can do much of the work yourself but get the answers and information you need so you don't make mistakes that will keep you up at night in the years to come. Having a coaching attorney will give you peace of mind because you will know you didn't overlook anything. It will help you feel empowered because you did some of the work yourself. It will help you make a fresh start because you didn't spend all your financial resources on your legal matter!