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Court Tips




You have the right to represent yourself in court without a lawyer, but you are required to know and follow the court rules and the law.

If you are unsure of whether you need or want a lawyer, we suggest you get a brief consult with a lawyer before making your final decision. The Kentucky Lawyer Referral Service can assist you in finding a reputable legal professional to help answer your legal questions if their services are needed. This is a free service.

What is self-representation?

A person who goes to court without being represented by a lawyer is called "self-represented" or "pro se." Pro se is a Latin term that means "for oneself."
You need a lawyer if: (these are only examples)
  • You want legal advice
  • You do not fully understand papers you received from the other party side or from the court. (Court administration may be able to answer some questions for you)
  • You cannot afford to lose your case
  • You have a complicated case
  • You want to appeal a case
  • You are charged with a crime
  • You want to sue someone, but you don't know the legal theory or basis for your claim.
You may not need a lawyer if: (these are only examples)
  • You understand your case well enough to explain it to a judge;
  • You don't get overly nervous speaking in public, like a courtroom;
  • You are organized and keep accurate records;
  • You can write neatly or type;
  • You have time to prepare papers, make copies, learn the required steps, file papers with the court, do legal research and attend court hearings;
  • You have time to respond (right away) to papers you receive from the other party;
  • You are able to read, understand, and respond promptly to all papers you get from the Court;
  • Your case is relatively simple and no one will come forward to argue against what you want;
  • You are comfortable negotiating with the other side or their lawyer, if represented;
  • You speak, read, and write English well;
  • When you read state laws and court rules and cases, you understand what you have read.