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But I Can't Afford an Attorney:


I KEEP MY FEES LOW BY KEEPING EXPENSES LOW. Call me. If you get voice mail, leave a message. I will try to work with clients to agree upon reasonable fees and payment arrangements that most working people can afford. If I were to charge more than people could afford, I would not make money. I encourage you to call me and see if you can afford my fees.

Isn't there Free Legal Help Available?

If you meet stringent income and residency requirements you may be able to find some free legal help. Most people will not qualify. All they're likely to get is some "Fill-in-the-Blank" forms and a very short consultation with someone on how to try to represent themselves.
Thi is Your Home on the line. How much will it cost to move? Do you REALLY want to Gamble your Home on some "fill-in-the-blank" forms and a 15 minute consultation with some pro-bono who doesn't have the TIME to learn all the specifics of your case and who won't be standing next to you when the case goes before the Judge?
Would you not be more comfortable with Your Own Attorney who has discussed your case with you in detail, read all of the papers, written papers in your defense which are specifically tailored to your situation and who will be right there with you when its time to face the Judge?

You could cut your own hair, but do you?

But Aren't Most of These Cases Settled Before They Even Get to the Judge?
Yes, you may well be able to settle the case in the hallway with the Landlord's attorney, if you want to TAKE WHATEVER DEAL HE FEELS LIKE OFFERING YOU. His deal may not be the best deal. It may not even be the best deal he's willing to make. It may not be as good as what you might get if the case went to the Judge.
Tenants who are scared to take the matter before the Judge have almost no leverage to get a better deal. Too often I meet people who have signed stipulations of settlement obligating them to onerous payment plans which they have not be able to live up to. They gave up whatever defenses and counterclaims they might have in exchange for a simple extension of time. Sometimes all they got was the time it would take the bureaucratic wheels of justice to evict them anyway, in which case the Landlord has given up NOTHING.
The following three points, as with all of the rest of my websites, is personal opinion only and does not constitute legal advice. In some cases these points will not apply. Every case is different and if you want personalized advice (and you do) you'll need to contact me. With that caveat: Remember:

How Do I Know if You're REALLY an Attorney?

That is a legitimate question. Call me. I can tell you where you can go on-line to verify my admission to practice before the Courts of the State of New York. That is an official court website. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you spell the name correctly when you type it in. If you are considering hiring me for bankruptcy or some other federal matter I will tell you how to check me out with the appropriate federal court. I will take no offense at any such inquiries.

I've read all your stuff, I'm as smart as you are, now I can go do it myself:

Representing yourself is called proceeding pro-se. You have the right to represent yourself in court if you wish, but there are a few things to consider. Experience is one important factor. With your apartment on the line, and the cost of obtaining a new one, can you afford to learn-as-you-go? There are other factors too.

Professional Courtesy: Why don't sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy. When I was in law school I got a traffic ticket and I wanted to fight it. I went to Traffic Court and I sat near the front and listened in on what the lawyers were doing. I figured I could learn quickly. Many times a proposed adjourned date was inconvenient for the attorney. The attorney would tell the Judge. The Judge would then hand him a small calendar and tell the attorney to pick out a date that was convenient. When it was my turn and they gave me a date that was inconvenient, I tried the same thing. I spoke to the Judge respectfully, just as the attorneys did. But the answer I got was "If you are not here on that date a warrant will be issued for your arrest." I accepted the adjournment, left the building and hired an attorney.

Digging a Hole: Many times I hear from clients whom I wish had called me earlier. In this age of easy research on the Internet and pro-se clerks at the courthouse, many people take the idea that they will first try to do it themselves and then call in a lawyer if they get in over their head. But opportunities can be lost this way. There may be issues which should have been raised which now cannot be raised because it is too late. There may be something you should not have brought up, but now cannot be deleted from the record. There may a stipulation that you never should have signed.

Nobody Likes a Wisemouth: If your attorney raises some intricate and complicated aspect of law in your defense, they look like a smart attorney. If you try to raise the same exact thing in your defense you may look like a wisemouth. Nobody likes a wisemouth.

Attorney-Client Privilege: Communication between attorneys and their clients are generally privileged. That means if the Landlord's attorney asks me for privileged information I can tell him that the information is privileged. The Landlord's attorney, being an attorney, will understand that privileged communications cannot be shared. If you proceed pro-tie and the Landlord's attorney asks you something and you just say "I don't want to tell you that", you risk looking like an uncooperative wisemouth. Having them form this opinion of you is detrimental to the achievement of a settlement.

Inadequacy of Pro-tie forms, or My papers are better than their papers: I've seen pro-tie Order to Show Cause applications rejected by the court because the Tenant didn't properly explain everything to the Judge. The ironic thing is that the Tenant was trying to explain their whole case on some pro-se form handed out by the pro-se clerk at the court which had a blank space of about a line and a half wherein the Tenant was directed to explain why it was they needed the relief sought. Maybe somewhere on this thing it said attach additional sheets as necessary, but the point is that these cases can get complicated and it can sometimes take several pages to properly explain your case, plus exhibits.

Written Answers: Housing Court allows for parties to answer orally. Many pro-se Tenants opt for this. It avoids the burden of having to prepare and serve a written Answer. However, a written Answer gives the Tenant more control over exactly what is included in the Answer. This is especially important if you have many defenses or complex defenses.

It's Not Personal, It's Just Business: If you try to negotiate with your Landlord they may try to play an intimidation game on you. They are less likely to try that against another attorney. If your attorney contests the matter, that is understandable to the Landlord's attorneys. It's just business. It's what attorneys are paid to do. It's not personal. It should be no barrier to a future settlement. Remember, if you win and stay in your home, you will need to get along with ownership/management. Better that I should play the "bad cop" than you. I don;t have to live there.

Business Entities Cannot Proceed Pro-se: If your space is rented in the name of a Corporation, LLC or similar entity, the courts prohibit such entities from representing themselves. It doesn't matter if you're a 100% shareholder and founder of the business.