Seven Ways a Lawyer Coach Can Help You – from Nolo.com
A lawyer acting as a legal coach can help you in several important ways.
1. Confirm that you have a good claim or defense. Not every injury or wrong amounts to a valid legal claim worth pursuing in court. For instance, if a home appliance explodes and burns your hand, causing painful injuries that require medical treatment, you likely have a good case against the product’s manufacturer and the store where you bought it. But if the appliance breaks after its warranty has expired and does not do any damage to anyone or anything, you may be inconvenienced but do not have grounds to bring a lawsuit.
2. Find the law that applies in your case. To determine what evidence to look for and eventually present in court, you must know what law controls your case. You can research this on your own, but it is likely to be more difficult for you, a nonexpert, than for an experienced attorney.
3. Help you prepare documents. A legal coach can help you draft or respond to the initial pleadings — the complaint or answer — or check pleadings you have prepared. Your legal coach may be able to work as an “editor” to make sure any legal document you prepare is correct, logical, and persuasive.
4. File and serve legal documents. Legal documents often have to be written in precise ways — sometimes even on a specific kind of paper — and filed and served according to detailed rules. Your legal coach, or paralegals or legal secretaries in his or her office, may be able to assist you a great deal by typing court documents into final form and filing and serving them on your opponent for you.
5. Answer questions along the way. Preparing and trying a case necessarily involves maneuvering within a complex and impersonal system. You not only need to understand legal rules but also plug them into a winning strategy — a strategy you will typically have to fine-tune as your adversary reacts to your actions. It can help you a lot to run your general plans by an experienced lawyer. You may also come to particular points of confusion where some expert legal advice can save you much time and frustration. For example, you may want help planning a deposition, subpoenaing documents, or deciding whether to accept a settlement proposal from your opponent.
It may be especially helpful to have your coach review your outlines of what you expect to testify about and what you plan to ask witnesses on direct and cross-examination. Your coach may spot areas where you reveal information you are better off keeping to yourself or questions that are likely to get you into trouble.
6. Be on call during trial. It may help to have a knowledgeable attorney who is familiar with your case to be available for last-minute consulting in case something happens at trial that throws you for a loop. If your coach agrees to be available by phone, you can ask the judge for a five-minute recess, even during the middle of trial if necessary, and make a quick call for advice.
7. Take over if things get out of control. You may feel that there is no way you can afford to hire a lawyer and that you will try your whole case from start to finish no matter what. But do not rule out hiring a lawyer to take over if you really need help and can afford it. If you have consulted a legal coach from time to time in preparing for trial, that lawyer may be in a good position to step in for you if feel you are unable to continue representing yourself.