Hardheaded, practical advice about legal help--and self-help--from a former state surpreme court justice and prosecutor, and present professor and practitioner. On the civil side, Harnett soundly explains the legal basics (personal injury, divorce and custody, real property and landlord/tenant, employer/employee, contracts--for sales, common carriers, hotels and restaurants, money matters--both before and after death). On the criminal side he covers the procedural ground thoroughly and offers some good advice on avoiding arrest (""The awards of civility and dignity in your encounters with the police can be immediate. . ."") and dealing with it. Equally strong are his tips on preserving your rights and possessions (hold on to original documents; never sign a release without a lawyer), the advantages of settlement, and courtroom behavior for those who wind up there. No member of the ""do it without a lawyer"" school, Harnett spells out the (limited) areas where you can safely act for yourself (traffic court, small claims court, some family disputes). But he makes a good cause for effective professional advice or advocacy where it counts (when big money, long-term relationships, or criminal penalties are involved), although the section on finding and evaluating a lawyer is too brief. If Harnett's brand of legal realism occasionally sounds callous (""Striking a wife goes down poorly in court""), this is still a good introduction to the way a lawyer will look at you and your case.