Self-represented litigant ordered to pay her ex-employer
One individual’s experience, related below, confirms two of my favourite rules in law: people get what they pay for, and clients hire lawyers to get better results than they could get for themselves.
An individual I met with last year decided that she would argue her case on her own instead of hiring me as her lawyer. This was against my advice since her case was not simple and her former employer was unwilling to settle.
She was not easily convinced. Relying on a free brochure provided by the government, stating that lawyers are not mandatory for small claims court matters, she figured she could win on her own. The problem was that, unlike many small claims matters where a lawyer is unnecessary, her case was complex. Properly conducting her own trial was a difficult if not impossible task, a fact she either overlooked or chose to ignore.
Another reason she was dissuaded from hiring a lawyer was her fear of the costs. In her view, if she could obtain close to the same result that I could, then why pay for my time. However, this only made sense if she successfully settled or won her case – a point she completely disregarded when rejecting my offer to take on her matter.
Recently, she called me in a frenzy. She was on the verge of her trial and hoping that I would now take her case. No surprise there. Her employer was not prepared to settle, as I had predicted, and a pre-trial judge ordered her to retain a lawyer, since she was incapable of arguing her own case. What’s worse is that she was also ordered to pay her employer’s legal costs for the preliminary hearing, an unusual result, often reserved as a penalty.
The lesson here is as follows: the value lawyers’ supply to their clients is challenged as often as the advice they provide. Sometimes it is for a good reason. Often it is not. Had this individual heeded my advice, she could have been cashing settlement cheques by now rather than having to pay legal costs to her ex-employer.
Author: Daniel Lublin
Publication: Metro

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