Tips on Self Representation


The Court is a very traditional, polite, and professional place. You must dress, act, and speak in a way that shows your respect for the court when representing yourself. Following the 4 P’s can help you help yourself in court:

The 4 P’s: Professionalism, Punctuality, Politeness, and Preparation

Professionalism

  • Dress professionally – like you are preparing for a job interview
  • Clothes should be neat, clean, and appropriate
    • No shorts, open-toed shoes, hats, or revealing clothing
    • No slogans, pictures or logos
  • Face and hair should be neat and clean

Punctuality

  • Be on time
    • If you are late your case may be postponed
    • Plan your route to court ahead of time
    • Be prepared to find parking if necessary
    • Be prepared to go through security

Politeness

  • Be respectful of everyone in the courtroom and court building, including:
    • The judge
    • Court and building staff
    • The other party in your case
    • Witnesses in your case
  • During your hearing, electronic devices should be turned off or set to silent unless otherwise directed by the court

Preparation

  • Check with a lawyer to make sure that representing yourself is the best thing for you and your case
    • Some lawyers provide “coaching” services which can help you prepare to represent yourself.
    • This may be cheaper than having a lawyer represent you in court
  • Read everything the court sends you from beginning to end
    • Tells you when and where your hearing will be
    • What you need to do to prepare for your hearing
    • What you need to bring to the hearing
  • Be prepared to provide any information or documentation requested by the court
  • Bring all documents you may need for your court appearance

 

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Paula Collins
Law Library Resource Center Administrator
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