Legal coaching is a method of representation in which the attorney and client agree to limit the scope of the attorney’s involvement. This arrangement can save the client money by allowing the client to do much of the leg work themselves. A lawyer acting as a legal coach can help you in several important ways.
Seven Ways a Lawyer Legal Coach Can Help You
Confirm that you have a good claim or defense. Not every divorce claim is worth pursuing in court. For instance, if your spouse takes money from your checking account before you separate to buy items for the children, you may have a claim for wasted money or damage to your credit if you cannot make your mortgage payment, but the circumstances will need to be closely examined before you make such a claim in court. A legal coach can help you assess your claim in light of the legal coach’s experience and knowledge.
Find the law that applies in your case. To determine what evidence to look for and eventually present in court, you must know what law controls your case. You can try to research these rules of evidence on your own, but it is likely to be more difficult for you, a non-expert, than for an experienced legal coach.
Help you prepare documents. A legal coach can help you draft or respond to the initial pleadings — the complaint or answer — or check pleadings you have prepared. Your legal coach may be able to work as an “editor” to make sure any legal document you prepare is correct, logical, and persuasive.
File and serve legal documents. Legal documents often have to be written in precise ways — sometimes even on a specific kind of paper — and filed and served according to detailed rules. Your legal coach may be able to assist you a great deal by typing court documents into final form and filing and serving them on your opponent for you.
Answer questions along the way. Preparing and trying a case necessarily involves maneuvering within a complex and impersonal legal system. You not only need to understand legal rules but also plug them into a winning strategy — a strategy you will typically have to fine-tune as your adversary reacts to your actions. It can help you a lot to run your general plans and ideas by an experienced legal coach. You may also come to particular points of confusion where some expert legal advice can save you time and frustration. For example, you may want help planning a deposition, subpoenaing documents, or deciding whether to accept a settlement proposal from your spouse.
It may be especially helpful to have your coach review your outlines of what you expect to testify about and what you plan to ask witnesses on direct and cross-examination. Your coach may spot areas where you need to go deeper into the facts or may suggest rephrasing questions that are likely to get you into trouble.
Be on call during trial. It may help to have a knowledgeable attorney who is familiar with your case to be available for last-minute consulting in case something happens at trial that throws you for a loop. If your coach agrees to be available by phone, you can ask the judge for a five-minute recess, even during the middle of trial if necessary, and make a quick call to your legal coach for advice.
Take over if things get out of control. You may feel that there is no way you can afford to hire a lawyer and that you will try your whole case from start to finish no matter what. But do not rule out hiring a lawyer to take over if you really need help and can afford it. If you have consulted a legal coach from time to time in preparing for trial, that lawyer may be in a good position to step in for you if feel you are suddenly over your head and unable to continue representing yourself.