Litigation Quick Take: Small Claims Court

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Q: Should I get an attorney if I have been sued in small claims court?

A: Small claims court in Iowa is designed so that the parties can represent themselves, known as “pro se” representation. The Iowa Judicial Branch provides information and interactive forms relating to small claims matters that are very helpful for parties that want to represent themselves. The Iowa Judicial Branch also provides some good pointers to pro se litigants.

While you and your business are not required to have an attorney represent you on a small claims matter, it may be a good idea if the damages alleged are larger and the case presents complex legal issues. This is often a business decision. Because small claims matters do not involve damages greater than $6,500, often the risk of paying a verdict does not outweigh the amount you would have to pay an attorney to represent you. To keep costs down, some attorneys may ask their clients to do a lot of the document collection, witness interviews, and exhibit work in preparation for the trial. This is a cost-saving approach, so you are only paying for representation at the trial, making it a better business decision.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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