Representing Yourself in Court
You may choose to represent yourself in court. Deciding whether or not to do so can be intimidating. Refer below for risks of representing yourself and a helpful checklist to decide if it is a good idea.
Risks of Self Representation
You are likely going to court because you would like the judge to rule in your favor. That means the biggest risk would be to receive an unfavorable outcome (ex. the judge orders YOU to pay money). The chance of this happening is greater if:
- You do not have the ability to meet the technical requirements to prove your case
- You do not follow the procedural steps outlined by the court.
Use the checklist below to help you decide if representing yourself is a good idea. The more items you check, the more you may want to think about hiring a lawyer to assist you.
- I have a complicated case or I think my case may become complicated
- I have a difficult time conveying my thoughts and ideas in writing.
- In the past, I have struggled to meet deadlines.
- It is hard for me to be available during the day or to arrange time off.
- The other party will likely hire an attorney.
- I am not comfortable performing my own legal research.
- I struggle making decisions.
- I believe I will have a hard time talking in front of the judge.
- Under stress, I tend to get emotional or angry.
- The evidence I need to prove my case is under the possession of the other side who has indicated they will not give it to me.
If you do decide you will represent yourself, you can learn more about going to court or how to perform legal research at the provided links. You can also visit the legal aid resources web page for information on existing services that can help you.