Court lawyers are lawyers with the specific skills and experience to represent and advocate, for clients in court. They are accomplished at dispute resolution, whether in or out of the courtroom. A good court lawyer will know not only the law applicable to your case, but the procedures and processes of the court system and how to present your case to the decision-maker in a way which will give you the best chances of success.
When confronted with a court date, whether it is a civil, family, traffic, drink driving or criminal issue, many people consider representing themselves in court instead of engaging a court lawyer. This might be because they believe they won’t be able to get a court lawyer at short notice, or because they feel they simply can’t afford to pay for the services of a lawyer.
There are many reasons why you should appoint a lawyer to represent you in court rather than you representing yourself, not least of which is that a lawyer is highly trained to know the area of law and will know the merits of your case. A court lawyer is also highly experienced in Court procedure and processes. If you decide not to appoint a lawyer and instead represent yourself, you risk not only failing to identify the key legal arguments which will assist your case, but you may in fact end up spending more time trying to sort your matter out without success. A good court lawyer can tell you whether you have a claim or defence, and can prepare skilled legal arguments on your behalf.
Court lawyers are highly skilled in the art of examining and cross-examining witnesses, identifying whether an issue is relevant or irrelevant to the case, identifying which documents assist a client’s case, and summarising the legal issues. Court lawyers are familiar with the rules and procedures of the Court and know what the Court’s powers are in relation to making orders, delivering verdicts or handing down decisions.
Court lawyers know the difference between an interlocutory hearing and a final hearing, and how these hearings are conducted. They also know how to conduct alternative means of resolving conflict, such as mediation and alternative dispute resolution. They are experienced negotiators and can advise you not only on the merits of your claim but how the Court system works, and what to expect when you walk into a courtroom.
Court lawyers can also tell you what to expect from a particular Registrar, Magistrate, Judge or Commissioner. Whilst a court lawyer cannot appear to be “in favour” with a decision-maker, they are often familiar with appearing before a specific decision-maker and will know how that decision-maker conducts their business in the court room. They will also know what the likely outcome will be for you.
Lawyers are legally obliged to serve your interests in professional and ethical manner, exercising due care and skill. Court lawyers are officers of the Court and are obliged to act in a manner which does not mislead the Court. They are accountable not only to the Court, but to the professional body in that State or Territory which regulates the conduct of lawyers (for example, the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia or the Law Society of Queensland).
This means that when you engage a court lawyer, they must act in accordance with their professional obligations under the conduct rules set by the professional body in their State or Territory. If they do not, you can make a complaint to the legal professional body, and they will investigate the conduct of your lawyer.
Other specific professional responsibilities of court lawyers include: advising the Court of any legal authority he or she considers is relevant; confining the hearing to those issues which the lawyer considers are real legal issues; correcting anything his or her opponent says which they know to be incorrect; and ceasing to act if there is a conflict of interest.
A court lawyer who knows that their client is guilty however is instructed to plead innocence has a duty not to mislead the court, and therefore must either cease to act for that client or, if it is too late to withdraw, advise that client that they cannot lie on behalf of the client, and that the case may be seriously compromised. For example, in a criminal case for murder, a lawyer who knew for a fact that their client was guilty could not attempt to persuade the court that it was someone else who committed the murder, and not their client. They could, however, maintain the defence that the prosecution had, on the evidence presented, failed to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.