Welcome to my webpage.
My name is David M. Lira. I have been practicing law for 30 years, mostly in the area of personal injury, employment, litigation and special education. For more details about my experience, see my Attorney Profile, which is essentially my resume.
This webpage serves two purposes:
- To tell you what I do, so that you might consider hiring me to help you with your legal needs, and
- In the form of a series of articles, published in a blog, to provide the general public with general information about the areas of law in which I practice
This website is a work in progress, so that you might find significant additions and modifications each time you visit this site.
With respect to the public information part of the website, I hope that you find these articles informative. Although this website is not designed for children, I hope that you find it useful and authoritative enough that, one day, I might start hearing reports of students making reference to the content of this website in their school reports. I don’t believe there are many written resources, including books, which tell about the law and the judicial system in the way this website does. I didn’t want to give you a law review article that shows off how much I know. Instead, I wanted to paint a picture of the law and judicial system which gives you a good idea of how they work on a day-to-day basis.
I also hope that this website will help me in my law practice by providing a resource to answer typical client questions. It isn’t unusual for a client to ask questions like the following: This has happened in my case. What happens next? How does this process work? Why does it work that way? I hope that the articles included in this website will answer many of these questions.
I probably have ideas for hundreds of articles to add to this website, and I have a pretty good, but general, idea about the order in which I want to write these articles. However, I want this website to be responsive to your needs. So, if you would like me to address a particular topic, drop me a note by e-mail, using the form available at the Contact Us page. If I get enough requests for the same or related topics, I will move that those topics to the top of my article list.
You will notice that, unlike most blogs, there is no side bar item for “Recent Posts” or “Archives.” This is because I am using a blog format in a different way. My blog does not give you news or my latest opinions. To the degree possible, I just want to give you “the facts,” that is, the law as I understand it. The law doesn’t change very fast. So, one of my articles may be 10 years old but may be as up to date as an article written on the same topic today. So, my blog posts are fairly static, and could just as well be organized as webpages. However, the Articles section on the sidebar will give you access to the Article in much the same way as a menu of webpages, and still give me the advantages of using a blog.
Those parts of the website which describe what I do shows that I have a traditional law practice. That is, a client comes to me with a need, I determine that I can assist, I agree to represent the client in that matter, and I shepard the matter through the court process with the hope of getting a desirable result for the client. But the practice description also includes two non-traditional areas of practice: pro se work, and dispute resolution.
The pro se part of the practice is a response to changes in the legal system over the past 30 years. I don’t think legal services have gotten more expensive over the past 30 years. Instead, what has happened is that the legal system has gotten less friendly toward consumers and more complicated. The result is that attorneys are less likely to take cases on a contingent basis in certain areas of the law, such as employment, because those cases have gotten a lot more risky, and more legal services are needed to complete cases. Further, because consumer buying power has decreased over the past 30 years, you have fewer resources to pay for an attorney.
One of the results of these changes is that more and more consumers decide to represent themselves in court. I do believe that representing yourself in court is often not the best idea, but, if you can’t find an attorney to take the case, or you can’t afford the cost of turning the case over to an attorney, you may not have much of an choice.
I believe Abraham Lincoln once said that a lawyer’s stock in trade is his time and knowledge. Well, I think the knowledge part can to a large extent be separated from the time part. The pro se part of my practice is based on this. That is, if you use my pro se services, you are acquiring the knowledge of an attorney, but you are putting in the time that an attorney would otherwise spend on your case implementing that knowledge.
Now, the law is part of the public domain. So, there shouldn’t be much stopping you from getting legal knowledge on your own. However, there are a couple of problems with acquiring this knowledge.
First, it can be tough to find. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but you may spend a lot of time just finding appropriate sources of the law. If you are under a court imposed deadline, you may not have the time. In addition, you probably have to work for a living, So, when are you going to find the time to look for the law you need? Finding public copies of statutes and regulations isn’t too bad, but finding caselaw, except for some higher courts, can be tough.
Second, even if you find the appropriate sources of law, you find its written in a language that seems foreign. Actually, it’s written in English, but the law uses language in a way that’s different than just about any other field. You can call it precise, or you can call it bizarre.
Here’s an example of what I mean. I was a second year law student, and I got an internship in a program concentrating on employment law. The attorney I was assisting was having me review a set of proposed regulations. I ran across two provisions that, from context, were suppose to be doing two different things, but, when I first read the provisions, they seemed to say the exact same thing, word for word. I must have gotten stuck on these two provisions for several days. Then, after much painstaking work, I discovered the difference. The difference was somewhere in the middle of the provisions. In one version, the provision used the word “and.” In the other, it used the word “or.” It took me a while, but I finally puzzled out that the use of one word over the other has a significant effect on the meaning of the provision. When I discovered this, I was pretty excited, and I was very enthusiastic when I discussed my discovery with my supervising attorney. His reaction: “Ho hum.” It was obvious to him. The moral of the story is that you and young attorneys only slowly and painfully learn the complexity and subtlety of the language used in the law.
Third, some details of how the judicial system works are written down no where. You may have found written sources telling you what papers you have to prepare, and where you have to file them. You may know the exact fee you have to pay. Once you get there, from the directory, you figure out what location in the building you need to get to, but, once you get there, you have no idea what to do or what to expect. You are really not in any different place than any rookie attorney, but the rookie attorney usually has a senior attorney, the boss, to get guidance from. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to have someone to get guidance from? This is one of the purposes of the pro se program.
The dispute resolution part is like the pro se part in that it is also a response to the fact that more and more people find they cannot hire an attorney to handle a dispute in the traditional way. With dispute resolution, the services that I am offering are not about advocating for one side or another, which is what everything else that I do is about. In dispute resolution, I am offering to act as a neutral. I am not taking sides.
Dispute resolution, or as lawyers call it, alternate dispute resolution (“ADR”), can include arbitration and mediation. Although arbitration has its place, I have problems with it in that it is easily abused, and can be just as protracted and expensive as litigation. I offer that service for those who want it. What I am more interested in offering is mediation.
There is an article describing mediation in more detail. But, in brief, I like mediation because it is voluntary, that is, it becomes binding only once all parties to the mediation are willing to be bound. The parties also have a lot of control over the costs of mediation. They don’t need attorneys. And they decide how long mediation will last. If they feel progress is being made after a half-day of mediation, they can agree to more, whether it is another half-day, a full day, or more. Mediation is also very flexible — the solutions reached in mediation are limited only by the imaginations and willingness of the parties. This is unlike legal proceedings, including arbitration, which can do little more than award money in the form of damages..