Involving a lawyer in your small claims case is generally not necessary. Small claims court is meant to be a more informal version of the courtroom in which the regular person can bring their disputes resolved by a judge without the need for lawyers. The size of these law suits is considered “small” and so involving high prices lawyers would generally defeat the purpose. The lawyers’ fees would often be far higher than the monetary value of the whole case itself.
All the forms you need in order to file in small claims court are available to you from the Court Clerk’s Office. These forms usually contain the basic information you need to fill them out. You do not need a lawyer or any professional person to fill in this claim form. They are intended for everyday people to use.
Many people feel that they should consult a lawyer before they go into court with their claim. You should remember that because this type of court is a little more informal than other courts are, you will not be required to act like a lawyer to present your case. All you really require are the details of your case and all the proof you can gather.
If you show up to act on your own behalf in small claims court, you should be prepared. You should have all your receipts, bills, payment slips, contracts or other documentation that pertains to your case. If you have any witnesses, you will want to make sure they are coming (you may be more comfortable having them subpoenaed so you can be sure they will appear). If you have pictures that relate to the case, bring them along. If your case involves damaged goods, bring those with you as well (as long as they fit into the court).
The judge will ask you questions and listen to your side of the story. They will do the same for the other party. They will then deal with any evidence you have that they feel should be examined. This court is not run in a way that should intimidate you. As long as you have the facts of the case, you have everything you need to appear in small claims court.
Some states allow small claims courts to deal with amounts over $10,000. If your case is for a substantial amount of money and you are able to file in a jurisdiction that allows for that size claim, you may prefer to spend a little money on some advice from a lawyer. Some people book an hour with a professional just to get a little advice about what they might want to focus on for the best results.
In most cases, seeking legal advice from a lawyer prior to heading into your court date is very unnecessary. The judges in small claims court are more than equipped to sort their way through your case with you when you get there. Just prepare yourself by knowing all the details of your case and making sure you are armed with all your evidence on the day of court to discuss it with the judge.