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Can You Represent Yourself in Court?

Can You Represent Yourself in Court?

Can you represent yourself in court without an attorney (AKA as a “pro se” or “pro per” party)? As with everything in the law, the answer depends on your jurisdiction’s laws and court rules. You need to read and understand these to get a clearer answer.

As a general rule, the answer is yes: you CAN represent YOURSELF in a civil lawsuit, subject to a few exceptions.  (And of course depending on the laws and court rules in your jurisidiction). This is separate and apart from the more important question: Should You Represent Yourself in Court?

Here a few common exceptions to the general rule that a party can represent himself or herself in court in a civil lawsuit pro se / pro per:

Cannot Represent Corporations, LLCs, and Certain Business Entities

While you generally can represent yourself in court, most (if not all) states prohibit a non-attorney from representing a corporation, limited liability company, or certain other business entities.

Although you can usually represent yourself in court as a pro se / pro per self-represented party, you would almost certainly not be able to represent a corporation (or certain other business entities), even if you are the only owner of the business.

Cannot Represent Trust or Estate

Most (if not all) jurisdictions prohibit a non-attorney from representing a trust or estate. If you have been appointed as a trustee, executor or administrator of an estate, or even a court-appointed guardian, you will almost certainly need to hire an attorney. Read the laws and court rules in your jurisdiction.

Minors and Other “Competency” Issues

Different jurisdictions may have laws barring minors (i.e., under 18 years old) from representing themselves in court until they reach the age of maturity.

Likewise, if you have been adjudged by a court of law as mentally incompetent or otherwise incapable of making legal decisions on your own behalf, you will likely not be able to represent yourself in court pro se / pro per.

SHOULD You Represent Yourself in Court?

Deciding whether to represent yourself in court is a very important decision that should never be taken lightly. There are many factors you need to consider, including: the strength of your case; your financial condition; your abilities to devote the necessary time to litigating your case; and, much more.

To learn more about whether you should represent yourself in court pro se / pro per in a civil lawsuit, learn more below:

Should You Represent Yourself in Court?

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