No Lawyer Required – Small Claims Court

Your best friend, or someone you thought of as a friend, asked you for a loan of $2,500.00. You had the money, and you liked the guy, so you said okay. Two months have passed, and he bought a new house. You know he’s not hurting. You called him after you heard about the house and asked when he was going to pay you back. He said he had huge expenses now because of the new house. He said soon. Two weeks later you called again. Again he said soon. You just put the phone down. You’re tired of calling. He said soon again. What to do next?

This situation sounds like a case for small claims court. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Letter

Write your friend a letter. Tell him that he has two weeks to pay you back. Tell him you want to resolve his payment to you in a friendly manner, but if you do not receive a check within two weeks, you will see him in small claims court.

We’re hoping that the letter resolves the non-payment problem. If it does not, you’ll have to continue to step two.

2. File a claim

Go to your local small claims court and complete the forms. You can probably download the forms from your county’s small claims website. Submit the forms to the small claims court. The court will schedule a hearing.

3. Service of process

Your friend has become the defendant. He must be served at least 15 days before the hearing date if the defendant lives in San Francisco county. If the defendant does not live in the county, s/he must be served at least 20 days before the hearing date. A capable adult must serve a true copy of the claim. You cannot serve the defendant.

4. Evidence

You next gather all evidence to submit at the hearing. Evidence would include a copy of the cancelled check that you gave your friend and dates and notes of all phone calls that you made to him. You may want to take a photo of his new house.

5. At the hearing

Small claims courts are generally much more informal that other courts. The judge will ask you questions, and then s/he’ll ask your friend, the defendant, questions.

If you have presented the situation with evidence, the judge will probably rule in your favor.

You’ve won your case, and your friend is now going to pay you back, but suppose he doesn’t. Suppose he is a real jerk and has decided that he wants you to have to work just a little harder to get your money back.

6. Collecting a judgment

You have to collect the judgment. The defendant may pay the amount directly to the court. If the defendant does not have the money, the defendant may have to pay installments.

If your friend refuses to pay, you can complete an Application and Order for Appearance and Examination which would require your friend to appear in small claims court to have his income and resources examined.

You could also consider wage garnishment by completing a Writ of Execution. This writ could also levy your friend’s checking or other bank account.

If your friend has a business with a cash register, a sheriff can go to the business for a till tap. The sheriff can take enough money from the cash register to pay the judgment debt. The typical sheriff’s fee for a till tap is $85.00. We hope your friend doesn’t put you in this situation, but if you are ever in this situation, the purpose of small claims courts is to resolve small problems without the expense of an attorney. This is the do it yourself legal remedy.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, seek out a licensed attorney. Remember that small claims courts do not require an attorney. If, however, the losing defendant appeals the small claims court’s decision, the new venue is a superior court. In a superior court, you will need an attorney.

Graduating As a Lawyer

“I know we can’t abolish prejudice through laws, but we can set up guidelines for our actions by legislation.” – Belva Lockwood (American Attorney, 1830-1917)

No profession other than law has multiple variations for a ‘lawyer’. Titles Attorney, Lawyer, Barrister, Solicitor and Esquire are used, in the field of law. However, each title holds a unique responsibility than the others. An attorney or attorney-at-law is a qualified and licensed member of the legal profession, who may act on the client’s behalf and plead or defend a case in the court of law.

A lawyer is a trained professional who provides advice and aid on legal matters, in addition to performing tasks that of an attorney.

A barrister performs trial works in the higher courts and does not deal directly with clients.

A solicitor, speaks with the client, prepares documents and may appear as an advocate in the lower court.

An Esquire is an honorary title, similar to the use of Dr. or Ph.D. Today its’ usage is less frequent and when used it is prefixed by an attorney’s full name.

In the U.S. attorney and lawyer are considered synonyms. While in the U.K. barrister, solicitor and advocate are the popular variants used.

Each country on the globe offers study courses in the field of law. A Law degree allows its’ holder to practice in the court of law. In addition, joining a “bar association” is like a key for entering the kingdom of law. An individual without any legal training can be an attorney-in-fact, but to be a lawyer, bar exam needs to be taken. It provides both license (educational evaluation) and certificate (character and fitness evaluation) to practice law.

In the U.S., formal requirements to become a lawyer requires a 4 year college degree, 3 years of law school and passing a written bar examination. However, requirements may vary by State.

The legal system of Florida includes state judiciary, courts (State and Federal) and the Florida Bar Association. Both Federal and State laws govern the outcome of a legal proceeding. The court system, an individual enters depends on factors like the amount of damage involved, location of the parties involved and whether a court has exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter.

For an attorney to practice law in this state, he has to be licensed from the Florida bar association. This reflects:

– An attorney has been subjected to ethical rules.
– Is required to take continuing education courses to maintain his license.
– Is required to maintain the confidential of the clients.
– Is professionally accountable to any authority. If found guilty by the bar, they can loose their license to practice.
– Maintains’ a Clients’ Security Fund intended to reimburse clients in case a lawyer misappropriates trust funds.

In, 2008 The Florida Bar Association, The Florida Bar Foundation, Florida Legal Services, The Real Property Probate and Trust Law section joined hands to fight back against the ‘foreclosure’ crisis that made Florida notorious in the nation. The statewide effort is called “Florida Attorney Saving Homes”.

According to a survey, most searched cities for Florida Attorneys are Boca Raton, Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tamp and West Palm Beach.

It is imperative for an individual seeking a lawyer to have a background check done. An important step in evaluating whether an attorney is legible for handling legal proceedings or not.

Starting a Profession As A Lawyer

Many people dream of becoming a lawyer in their lives but for different reasons could not make it. They might be unaware of the facts that becoming lawyer requires several difficult and challenging steps. If you are serious about practicing law, following are given few guidelines for becoming a lawyer.

If you really want to become a lawyer, start doing this from your high school. Taking part in mock trail teams and debates can help you learn few things.

Another important which you need to do is develop exemplary study habits such as reading, communication and comprehension skills.

You need to have great LSAT and GPA scores if you want to take admission in any reputable law school. The high scores can only be achieved through hard work.

You need to enroll yourself in an undergraduate college for 4 years degree program.

After completion of the degree, register yourself for Law Admission Test commonly known as LSAT. This test mainly focuses on to assess the applicant’s verbal reasoning and reading skills often used by schools.

LSAT is held three times a year, i.e. in the month of June, October and December. It is mandatory to pass the LSAT for a number of law schools.

Once you have cleared your LSAT, you are now ready to apply in a number of schools. Make one thing certain here that the law schools where you are applying should be accredited by American Bar Association (ABA). Application fees are usually high for law schools, so a careful and wise selection of the schools is required where they have an application waiver.

If you are one of those who meet their expenses on their own then it is the time to save some extra bucks for you for your school will not allow you to work for the first year.

Studying law involves a lot of hard work. You will not get enough time to waste. To complete your law successfully, you need to spend a lot of time in researching case laws, reading cases, writing briefs and preparing answers for class questions.

After the completion of first year, you should try to get a place in a law firm as an assistant, file clerk or messenger.

After graduating from law school one has to pass the Professional Responsibility Exam and later has to register him/her for state Bar Exam. This exam you can take in summer after completing your school.

This is the last step where you have to find a position as a lawyer. It is not easy as a lot of intense competition. Having any prior internship experience at a law will firm will definitely help.

Those who are good students and attend best law schools have got more job opportunities than others. Obviously, the competition is usually intense for best jobs and high grades.