First, note that I wanted to ask the question "how hard is it to file and argue a declaratory judgment?" But that would have probably been a subjective question. But if you could include in your answer a mention of how hard it is, that would be great.

I assume "declaratory judgment" is something common to all jurisdictions and not just mine.


Not very.

In 1998 the Boston Bar Association Task Force on Unrepresented Litigants did a detailed study on this subject entitled Report on Pro Se Litigants.


Among their findings was:

In some types of matters unrepresented litigants do not obtain results as favorable as those with counsel;

This conclusion is consistent with my personal experience.


They fare poorly.

An attorney is considered an officer of the court. Their word is considered ethical gold in court. A non-lawyer has ZERO gravitas before the court, and so everything he/she says is assumed "suspect" before the court.

I was involved (respondent) in a case where the factual documentary evidence was incontrovertible, public record, and it completely supported my case. It seemed such an obvious slam dunk that I didn't hire counsel. The other side's attorney argued on a pro-forma basis to dismiss my motion to dismiss, and the case continued. I am certain that if I had hired counsel and my counsel had said the exact same things I said, the case would have been dismissed.

The courts really dislike talking directly to petitioners and respondents.

  • @nomenagentis, I have to confess that my knowlege of the matter is somewhat "small sample-empirical." However, that anecdotal and empirical evidence is 100%. Not just personal experience either. Courts view a Pro Se respondent as being a time-waster, much in the same way that a dealership mechanic engages with a "weekend warrior mechanic" at a cocktail party...with quiet indulgence but decided impatience. I don't know of any formal studies that support or refute my position.
    – dwoz
    Nov 2 '15 at 22:19

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