There is a distinction between the existence of a legal standard and the citing of such legal standard — to include statutory references, case-law citations, etc. — and the art of persuasion. In reviewing Federal and Postal Disability Retirement applications which have been previously prepared, formulated and submitted by unrepresented Federal and Postal employees, which have been denied, it is often refreshing to see how laymen (i.e., “non-lawyers”) have utilized cases and case-law citations (often straight from some of my articles and blogs) in arguing his or her case.
The problem with such an approach, however, is that the unrepresented Federal or Postal employee will often refer to such legal standards without engaging in the necessary art of persuasion. Legal standards are certainly there to be used; however, there is a proper way and methodology of utilizing legal standards, and an improper way. The improper way is to use the legal standard as a hammer — of stating: X exists and states Y, therefore you must conclude Z. The proper methodology in utilizing a legal standard is to engage in the art of persuasion: X exists, and X determines why Y must come about, and therefore Z should be the logical conclusion, and here are the reasons why.
Normally, I advise against non-lawyers using the law precisely because of the potential mis-application of the methodology. Leave the law to lawyers; that is why lawyers are hired.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire