Persons who pursue a legal matter on their own in court, without a lawyer representing them, are often referred to as "self represented" or "pro se" litigants. This page provides pro se litigants with comprehensive, user-friendly information about court procedures and available legal services.
Coming to court without a lawyer
It is important for you to know that when you come to court without a lawyer you take a risk. The court cannot act on your behalf. Sometimes even simple matters can have legal consequences that you are unaware of or do not understand. Remember, resources may be available to you for low-cost legal assistance.
Forms You'll Need
Using the proper form is critical to processing your court action. Often more than one form will be needed to process your case.
Many forms need to be signed in front of a notary public. Also be aware of the implications of signing a form. You may want to check with a lawyer before putting your signature on a document.
Some words that are used in the courts may not be familiar to everyone. We want you to become familiar with these terms and to understand them so that you will be better able to understand court procedures and will be better prepared to participate in your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Watch a hearing or trial to learn court procedures
A very good way to learn about court procedures is to visit a court and observe a hearing or trial. Call the court clerk's office in any location to find out the court schedules, which vary from place to place. To find the court nearest you, go to Find Your Court.
Talk with a court representative or clerk
Once you have determined which court to go to, talk with the clerk about important deadlines and rules. Even though you are not a lawyer, you must meet court deadlines and follow court rules. Procedures about forms and court fees will also apply to your case, even if you appear in court without a lawyer.