Self-help law center

Representing yourself in court

Should I represent myself?

Most people come to court because something is affecting their lives, maybe in stressful and emotional ways. Learning the law and court processes can also be difficult and stressful. In fact, sometimes when people act as their own lawyer in complicated cases, they later need to hire a lawyer to "fix" mistakes. Hiring a lawyer after-the-fact could cost more than using a lawyer from the start.

However, many people, for a number of reasons, think about representing themselves in court. There are some questions you should consider before you begin your case without using a lawyer.

1. Are you on time for meetings and deadlines?

2. Can you make it to the courthouse during the day (during business hours)?

3. Do you fill out and file your own income tax returns?

4. Are you comfortable doing research, in a library or on a computer?

5. Are you likely to be clear and calm when you stand up and speak in court?

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6. Do you easily get angry under stress?

7. Are you often frustrated by rules you think are unfair or should not apply to you?

8. Can you make decisions and stick to them?

9. Can you live with some mistakes?

10. What is at stake in your case? Do you and the other party get along?

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