Self Help Section For People Without Lawyers
If you decide to represent yourself in court, you may hear the words “pro se” or hear yourself referred to as a “pro se litigant.” You may also come across “pro se” on court forms. This is because pro se is Latin for “for himself” or in one’s own behalf. So persons who represent themselves in court without the aid of an attorney are known as pro se litigants.
This section provides a list of organziations that are available to help people without lawyers with legal problems or questions. These services and resources are intended to help you present your case in court or direct you to appropriate organziations that provide free or low cost legal aid. Select from the options located to the right.
However, the information presented in this section is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of legal counsel. Please read the Circuit Court's disclaimer by clicking here before continuing on in this section.
Also, judges and court employees cannot give legal advice.
If you are representing yourself, please know that you will be held to the same standard as a lawyer — to know and to follow the code and the rules of civil court cases. These include the Code of Civil Procedure and the Illinois Rules of Court, as well as the Rules of the Circuit Court of Cook County, also called local rules. The information provided in this section does not take the place of the Code of Civil Procedure or Rules of Court or the Rules of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Please select from the choices available to your right.
You should know that the Help Desks in the Courthouses only accept walk-ins and do not accept appointments. They operate on a first come, first served basis.
On the other hand, most of the legal aid programs that you will find listed in this section do not accept walk-ins. Be sure to call first to see if you are eligible for their services and to get an appointment. While you might qualify for assistance from an organization, their resources are limited, so they may not be able to help you.
If you are low-income, you may be eligible for free or low-cost legal services.
All services provided at the Help Desks in the Courthouses are free of charge.
There also are many legal aid programs with different eligibility requirements and guidelines. To find out if you are eligible, call CARPLS, Cook County’s legal aid hotline, at (312)738-9200. CARPLS attorneys can give you legal advice and send you instructions and materials if it is a simpler matter and you want to or need to handle it yourself. If your problem is more complicated, CARPLS will try to refer you to an appropriate legal aid program.
Glossary of Legal Terms Illinois Supreme Court