In an earlier post, we discussed some of the essentials of the small claims court procedure here in the State of Connecticut. For instance, we covered such things as the maximum award ($5,000) the types of claims which are typically heard in small claims courts. We briefly mentioned the fact that, for individuals, claimants have the option to use an attorney, but attorney representation is not required. If you have a claim which you’re thinking about bringing to small claims court in Connecticut, you should ponder the question: should I represent myself, or hire an attorney?
As with so many things, a real answer can only be given when we know all the relevant facts and circumstances of a given case. However, there are a few things which you mull over whenever you consider hiring an attorney for small claims court. Let’s explore this issue in detail.
Attorneys Can Help with Preparation
One of the big benefits of hiring an attorney is the fact that attorneys can help immensely with the preparation process. Even though the burden of preparation is lower for small claims courts, you still will need to do a fair amount of preparatory work if you want to be successful. For instance, an attorney can help you learn the statutes which apply to your case (i.e. for contracts, torts, etc.), and also help you build the evidence and arguments which you will use to present to the judge.
Your attorney will have experience in handling cases similar to yours, and can counsel you on the relative weight of certain evidence, how to prepare evidence for court, the evidentiary hurdles you will need to meet, and so forth. Your attorney can also counsel you on other legal issues involved in your case, such as proper venue selection. If you go solo, you will be required to do everything on your own, and this can translate into many hours of work. The last thing you want is to put many hours into your case and then come up empty-handed.
The Financial Aspect of Using an Attorney
This is the obvious drawback of hiring an attorney. Unless your attorney is working pro bono, or is inexplicably charitable, you will need to spend money to retain his or her services. In small claims court cases, most attorneys will work on a flat rate schedule or hourly schedule, rather than on a contingency basis. This makes intuitive sense, because the stakes involved in small claims cases are necessarily lower than other cases.
But, even though you will most likely need to devote financial resources on an attorney, this can end up being very worthwhile in the long run. Not only will an attorney make the process easier, hiring an attorney also means you have a higher likelihood of success altogether. If you go solo, you take more risk, but also potentially have a greater reward because you didn’t invest in outside counsel. If you hire an attorney, you are more likely to succeed, but this comes with a cost.
In the end, the decision you make will all depend on the specifics of your case. If you have the resources to invest in an attorney, and you want the best chance of succeeding when you go to small claims court, then you should hire an attorney. If you’d prefer to go alone and take more risk, then perhaps you should represent yourself.
Contact the Apex Law Firm for More Information
Are you thinking about bringing a matter to small claims court here in Connecticut? If so, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Apex Law Firm today for more information. We can listen to your case and give the best recommendation for moving forward. Call us today at 860-900-0900.