Pro Se Versus a Lawyer on the Other Side? Level the Playing Field

A simple but little believed truth is that most lawyers don't have trials. Most of their practice is spent in the office but when they do go to court it is usually to have a hearing in front of a judge. Even most lawyers who claim to have had a lot of trials count bench trials (to a judge) when they should really only count jury trials.

A trial to a jury is a completely different animal than a trial to a judge. It involves more than just knowing the law, it also involves knowing people and how they react to different things and this skill is something most lawyers forget.

I don't know the number of jury trials it averages out to per lawyer. but my guess is it would be less than 5 and probably less than three. Whereas the number of hearing in front of a judge is probably more than a hundred and maybe in the hundreds.

What does this tell you?

Lawyers aren't that far ahead of you when it comes to jury trials. It is a topic that is barely addressed in most law schools and there are very, very few classes that actually teach you anything about how to do a trial correctly. In addition, most lawyers still do trials using the theories and methods that were believed to be true in the 1950s, not realizing they are no longer effective.

When I was first asked to help with the Guerrilla Guides to the Law, I insisted that the first one we do was The Guerrilla  Guide to Picking a Jury: Jury Selection and Voir Dire for the Non-Lawyers. I chose that one because I truly believe that this is an area where someone representing themselves can remove, or at least minimize, most of the advantages a lawyer has and perhaps even put them in a position where they are just as nervous as the non-lawyer. This book contains experiences and tips that most lawyers don't even know, taken from hundreds of hours of classes on this particular subject as well as thousands of hours in and preparing for jury trials.

Going to a jury means you have to be even better prepared than you are in a hearing before the judge, but it also means that the people making the ultimate decision on your case don't golf with the judge, aren't campaign supporters or contributors, and aren't at least passing friends.

You are already at enough of a disadvantage. Ask for a jury trial and you can level the field, at least a little.

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