I’ll admit that there are many tasks currently handled by lawyers that a non-lawyer or pro se could take on just as competently. At the same time, there are certain matters that a nonlawyer is bound to screw up, often with tragic consequences, as this article, Paralegal Accused of Posing As Lawyer (Dallas Morning News, 6/21/05) bears out.
The article describes how John Dejean former jailhouse “attorney representative” who started a successful paralegal business primarily helping convicts file legal motions wound up advising a client to speak with the police about a quadruple murder in which the client had served as a lookout and carried a gun. Apparently, Dejean did not realize that his client’s role in the crime meant that the state could do what it did, i.e., charge him with felony murder, a capital crime, even if he was not the actual killer.
So the next time you encounter a client who wonders why he can’t handle a matter on his own or why you’re charging so much, you might just pass along this article as a reminder that in many cases, the costs of not using a good lawyer far outweigh the costs of hiring one.