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Pro Se Meaning

Dena Standley | March 20, 2023

Summary: Small claims courts, which handle debt collection cases, allow you to represent yourself. This is also known as suit pro se. You can receive a favorable judgment if you prepare well and obtain the correct documents. Learn what to consider to represent yourself and the mistakes to avoid.

In the legal system, individuals sometimes must represent themselves in court without an attorney. This situation is known as pro se or suit pro se. In Latin, pro se is a term that means “on one’s behalf.” The suit, which means a legal action or lawsuit, when combined with pro se, means a person representing themselves in a legal matter without the assistance of a lawyer.

Admittedly, it can be challenging for a person representing themselves to navigate the legal process without a legal professional. However, the situation is much simpler in debt collection cases. Most small claims courts welcome pro se more than having an attorney present.

If you choose to be a pro se litigant, it is crucial to understand its implication and prepare well. This article will give you more information on when to consider representing yourself, mistakes you should avoid, and options to settle the matter out of court.

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Reasons for handling a suit pro se

For some people, the decision to represent themselves is not an option they choose willingly. Circumstances may force them to handle their case. The most common reason to represent yourself is that hiring an attorney is expensive.

Most people in America cannot afford a lawyer’s legal fees, and a suit pro se is the only way for them to save money and still have their day in court. Other reasons you may consider appearing pro se in your case include:

  • You have reliable knowledge or overwhelming personal conviction for handling the case.
  • You had a prior bad experience working with an attorney.
  • You cannot find the right attorney to represent you.
  • You want total control over the legal matter.
  • An attorney is not required—as in small claims courts.

If a debt collection agency has sued you, appearing pro se is the better option. The rules of evidence are relaxed, and the proceedings are less complex. In addition, SoloSuit makes it easy to obtain the documents you need to represent yourself.

Common mistakes pro se litigants make

Undoubtedly, lawyers make mistakes when handling clients' cases, but these mistakes rarely cost them the case. Even when they make a grave mistake, they can usually find a way to get back on track.

On the contrary, pro se litigants who make mistakes often lose the case or receive penalties. In addition, lawyers know how to manipulate pro se litigants with their tricks. To avoid finding yourself in this situation, the following are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Lack of proper preparation: If you do not adequately research your case, you may fail to argue your position or counter the opposition's claim that may be false. Besides, attorneys rely on the suit pro se litigant's ignorance to win the case.

  • Ignoring relevant laws and regulations: You may research well about your case but neglect to follow the court rules, such as failing to comply with discovery requests or adhering to the rules of civil procedure in the specific court. This mistake may result in fines, sanctions, and case dismissal.

  • Lack of confidence: If you are up against a lawyer, you may feel inadequate to argue with an expert. But, if you have done proper research and mastered the court rules, you should have confidence in facing the lawyer and judge. If not, you may lose a case that you would have gotten a favorable judgment if you had taken the bull by the horns.

Let’s look at an illustration to summarize the points.

Example: Jenny received a lawsuit letter from LoanMart for failing to pay her pending debt for over a year. She was going through a rough patch and couldn't afford to seek legal advice. Hence, Jenny went online and discovered SoloSuit, which helped her draft and file an Answer to the lawsuit. During her hearing, Jenny explained she had sent a Debt Validation Letter to LoanMart, who never responded. The judge dismissed the case and asked LoanMart to follow the proper procedure before coming to court. Afterward, Jenny used SoloSettle to request LoanMart to settle out of court.

SoloSuit can help you represent yourself

As mentioned earlier, to increase your chances of getting a favorable judgment in court as a pro se litigant, you must gather adequate evidence and research debt collection rules and regulations in your state. Fortunately, SoloSuit has the resources to help you prepare for court.

Our software helps you draft and file an Answer to your case. The Answer includes all the proper legal language needed to present a strong case. SoloSuit also has a blog dedicated to educating consumers on how to represent themselves in court, avoid costly attorney fees, and stick it to debt collectors.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

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