Abilities Needed To Be A
Pro se Litigant*
*or abilities you will learn being a Pro
- The ability to deal with rejection
- You must be able to take rejection without defining it as
failure. Always remember if two lawyers are walking out of the courtroom, both were
overpaid. Just kidding. If two lawyers are walking out of a courtroom, one of
them lost! You must interpret rejection as a battle, not the war.
- The ability to continue after being knocked down.
- Sometimes you may need to take a day or two to recover.
You may need to let your rage diminish. You will need the ability to get back
up and say, "Ok, what can I do now?" or "What didn't I do?"
- The ability to view things from many different angles.
- You need the ability to think more in terms like, "That
is A view" versus "There is my view and the wrong view." "That
is A defense" versus "They don't have a defense." Being impatient or
intolerant with another's view, defense or assertion appears as immaturity in the
courtroom. Opposing side is supposed to have a view, defense or assertion.
Many times you will deal with outrageous arguments using deceit and/or lies that
would never be used as arguments outside the courtroom.
- The ability to be precise in written and spoken word.
- "I did not have sexual relations with Monica
Lowinsky." Ms. Lowinsky's allegations involved oral sex. The definition
of sexual relations does NOT include oral sex. President Clinton never denied Ms.
Lowinsky's sexual allegation....but millions thought he did! "There is no
improper relationship." There isn't now, but WAS there? Many of us are
raised speaking and writing without precision. We fill in the gaps with what we believe is
the intended meaning. Precision in the spoken and written word will take time to
- The ability to remain dignified regardless of the
- You will deal with all sorts of absurdities, injustices and
indignities. You will be told nonsense and lies with people looking you straight in
the eye or sounding like they are on a truth serum. You must learn to stare
absurdities, injustices and indignities square in the face without losing your cool while
still defending yourself. Being outraged or emotional does NOT carry the weight it
may carry outside the courtroom.
- The ability to be persistent and thorough.
- Many in the legal profession say the one who wins is the one
with the most stamina. Of course, that usually means the one with the most money to spend.
Persistence and thoroughness are necessary elements to any successful litigation.
- The ability to remain in control of your emotions.
- When you are litigating Pro se, it is particularly difficult
to separate your emotions during litigation. Be forewarned, emotionalism during
litigation can and most likely will be used as an excuse to cut you off.
- The ability to know and accept your wrong after being 100%
convinced you are right.
- This can be a humbling and learning experience.
Sometimes, despite our convictions or our research, there will be times we will miss
or misinterpret the point and be wrong. Thinking law and litigation is a mixture of
morality, common sense and fairness is a common source of this experience. Morality,
common sense and fairness may be elements in the drafting of laws, but the implementation
of law may not favor morality, common sense or fairness as these terms are generally
- The ability to hold your position when right when everyone is
saying you are wrong.
- Remember case law is made by litigants questioning Judge's
decisions. There may be times lower court procedure and trials become a
formality in order to get the higher courts to rule on your issues.
- The ability to separate morality, common sense, fairness and
- Morality, common sense and fairness may be elements in the
drafting of laws, but the implementation of law may not favor morality, common sense or
fairness as these terms are generally defined.
- The ability to see Judges and Lawyers as human beings.
- Most have to have several hearings before they can see Judges
or Lawyers as human beings. Usually the behavior from Judges and Lawyers will
eliminate any pedestal you may have placed them on.
- The ability to stay on point.
- Court proceedings many times are nothing more than obstacle courses designed to get you off point. If they can get you off point, your issues get lost. Frankly, it takes guts to insist on remaining on point and sometimes that could mean getting the Judge back to the point.
- The ability to present your case without preaching.
- So many Pro se litigants preach in their documents and during hearings. They want to give the court a history lesson on the great principles this country was founded on. Argue the merits of your case with minimal preaching.
- Most Important! The ability to recover from the stress.
- Litigation, many times, can damage a person like little else can. You MUST recover and move on so you can be there to help others. Process your rage into a recovery!
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