Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Steps to Finding Law

Bank robbers operate on the premise of going where they know there's money. The same applies when one is seeking a better understanding of the "Law." You must go to where the law is written.
However most people in need of a better understanding of the law, and or representation within a court of law, know that there is an easy way out. Hiring a lawyer, after all that's his job.  He or she makes his or her living by knowing what's in all those law books.
Well let me do them a favor. Yes, Pro Se HQ is here to make your attorney's job a little easier also. How? By helping the laymen understand what I have learned about the law and where to find it.  You see when the client understands the laws that are relevant to his or her case they will be in a better position to explain their case to hire the right lawyer in the first place. They will also be in a better position to know if their chosen counsel is still wet behind the ears, whereby they can avoid hiring them at the outset, plus follow the progression of their claim or defense knowing that their lawyer is presenting a basis in law and fact which supports a decision in their favor.

It all starts with the books people. Think about it, when you go to the law library, what do you see.  When you walk into a lawyers office what do you see? Books and books, rows of books all over the place. The trick is that the lawyer has spent years learning how to navigate through all the numerous volumes of books you see. To know what's going on we to must learn at least the basics of the same books our lawyers turn to. Not to mention those of us with the courage to stand Pro Se, not only must we put some time in learning what books we need but we must further learn the differences between all these books, but how to navigate through them as well.
When I first decided to stand Pro Se I was fortunate to find a book I think of as the pro se litigants bible. That book is titled "RepresentYourself in Court, How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case, Paul Bergman, J.D. and Sara J. Berman, J.D.."  For around $25 one can get this book, or purchase the eBook for around $35 at the publishes website  This book is your best bet for understanding the workings of the courts on the cheap. It's written so that we laymen can grasp basic legal concepts, and it's where I first learned that our courts are concerned with the basis in facts and the law.

Most public and college libraries will shelve a few copies of "Represent Yourself in Court."  Trust me though, once you pick this book up you'll want your own copy to keep around the house. Like I said it introduces the reader to the most common topics in law, civil, criminal, family, divorce and so on.
While your at the library checking out "Represent Yourself in Court," those of us handling high finance litigation on no budget will also want to become familiar with the Encyclopedia of Law called "Corpus Juris Secundum."  When you walk into your lawyer's office and catch a glimpse of his or her shelves filled with these books you will know that he or she had a good line of credit, their own start-up capital, or followed in their parents footsteps, and inherited or were the recipient of these blessed hand-me-downs.

They're not cheap folks, at over $10,700 per set, you begin to understand why lawyers only give one hour free consultations.  You may further notice that during that one hour the prospective attorney usually wont get up from behind the desk to consult these encyclopedia in front of you.
Within Corpus Juris Secundum you will find general rules of law along with some of the limitations and exceptions to rules of law. The volumes contain citations and supporting cases from both state and federal courts giving you a view of the law in local jurisdictions as well as a snap-shot of the law across the United States of America.  Litigants still must proceed with some caution when referencing this encyclopedia of U.S. law, due to the growth of statutory and regulatory governance across America. As cautioned within Wikipedia's definition of the same, "rather than being used as sources of authoritative statements of law, legal encyclopedias will be more often used as tools for finding relevant case law."

If "Representing Yourself in Court" becomes your legal bible, as it was for me, then I'd be doing you a miss-service if I failed to tell you that in order to understand any of the concepts you'll find in the afore mentioned books you must and almost can't expect to decipher them without an accompanying law dictionary.  The "Holy Grail" of law dictionaries for me is "Blacks Law Dictionary"  Available at most public libraries, and a must for any book house claiming to be a law library. If this book is not available, you're not in a law library, and if you don't see one in a prospective attorney's office RUN! 
So, you know.  You can pick-up "Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary" for around $25 or you can go to your attorney's trusted source, and dole out the $80 for the holy grail. (Black's LawDictionary).  Now you're ready to do some legal research right? NOT!  Ain't that simple speedy.  There's more to legal research than the above, so I'll recommend you save up some more doe to cop a copy of "Legal Research, How to Find &Understand the Law, Stephen Elias, Attorney." 
What? Attorney…How to Find & Understand the Law?  Yes, you'll be taken aback when attorney Elias shares information in this guide giving you basic tools of legal research.  He gives clear examples and instruction so that you'll be reading and understanding statutes, regulations, and cases in no time.  You might just start blogging about this one book alone, if you do, please mention where you heard it first.
Thank You, Pro Se HQ,
P.S. Please tell a friend or two, "He's back." Stay tuned and watch for posts on my other blog at as well. God Bless!

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