There is a newly published book by Devlin Farmer called “Representing Yourself in Court. How to Win Your Case on Your Own.” (Self-Counsel Press 2016). All I can say is that I wish I had this book when I was a self-represented litigant.
This book explains the fundamental concepts an SRL needs to understand for the litigation process. I especially like the way Mr. Farmer conveys difficult concepts in clear, plain English. For example, normally, rules of evidence are so complex that law schools design a whole course dedicated to it, and lawyers have continuing education courses in this area. While it’s unrealistic to expect SRLs to have the same level of knowledge as lawyers in this area, it is important that they have at least the basics explained to them. Mr. Farmer gives a great overview of the basic concepts of hearsay and privilege in Chapter 5 of his book.
Furthermore, Mr. Farmer provides easy to understand examples to illustrate his points. For instance, one very common problem amongst SRLs is that it’s often difficult for them to distinguish legal issues from moral ones. We often think that the court is there to provide justice for someone who suffered harm caused another. However, what many people don’t realize is that you cannot sue for every wrong! If your case does not involve a legal issue that has a legal remedy, it will be thrown out of court. The book gives some excellent examples of what disputes you can go to court for, and which ones you cannot. This is a really important point. It’s also the reason why a potential plaintiff should seek the advice of a lawyer before starting a lawsuit.
I definitely recommend this book to all litigants (self-represented or not), those who are new to the court process, and even for those who are facing an upcoming trial. I think it’s important that all litigants, to be educated about the court process. Obviously, one cannot say that this book contains every single bit of information every litigant will need. However, this book provides the essential background information for an SRL, which, if used in combination with a lawyer on a limited scope retainer, may well give an SRL the knowledge that they need to succeed in court.