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Legal Information

Court System Basics

Why does it matter if I do or don’t have a lawyer?

A lawyer’s knowledge of the laws and rules of evidence can be very important when navigating the court process. A lawyer should be able to explain what you have to prove in your case to get the outcome that you want, warn you of potential pitfalls, and discuss the probability of your success, among other things. Therefore, if you are able to get a lawyer, preferably one who is knowledgeable about domestic violence, you should consider working with a lawyer for your legal case.

Our Choosing and Working with a Lawyer page has tips on questions you can ask a lawyer during your first meeting to see if the lawyer would be a good fit for your case. However, if you are getting a lawyer from a non-profit organization or if the court appoints a lawyer, you may not have the luxury of interviewing multiple lawyers to find one who is a good fit; you may have to work with whoever is assigned to you.

Sadly, the reality is that many people cannot afford a lawyer to represent them and legal services organizations still do not have the resources they need to represent everyone who applies for their services. If you are not fortunate enough to be able to get a lawyer to represent you, either free or paid, you should strongly consider at least consulting with one before deciding on a course of action in your case. In addition to legal services organizations, there are also legal referral services operated mostly by state bar associations that usually offer low-cost initial consultations with a lawyer. You can find information about free and paid lawyers on our Finding a Lawyer page.