Going to Court

Tips on Self-Representation

The Court is a very traditional and polite place. When you are representing yourself in Court you are trying to persuade a judge or a jury that you are right. So you must act, dress, and speak in a way that helps you with your case. Here are some tips:
  • When you come to Court, dress as professionally as possible. This means clothes that are neat and clean, and without holes. You should be clean and neatly groomed.
  • How you act is as important as how you look. You must be respectful to everyone in Court. This includes the judge, court staff, the other party involved in your case, witnesses, and people in the hallways.
  • The Court has a very busy schedule, so you must be on time for the judge or for any other appointment. If you are late, your case might get postponed, or you could get in trouble with the judge. Make sure you bring all the court documents you need for your appointment.
  • The judge or commissioner cannot speak to you about your case except when your case is being heard and when the other party is there. The judge’s staff will help you in any way they can with questions like when your hearing is scheduled or whether the judge has decided yet on your case. But, staff cannot give you legal advice or recommendations on what you should do. Always be polite with judges and with Court staff, and be prepared to provide any information they request.
  • When you represent yourself in Court, get legal advice from a lawyer ahead of time to make sure you are doing the right thing. Legal advice includes deciding what option is best for you. Some lawyers provide "coaching" which is a way of helping you help yourself. This is different from and cheaper than hiring a lawyer to represent you.
  • In summary, always remember the 4 p’s; Professionalism, Punctuality (or being on time), Politeness, and Preparation. This will go a long way toward helping you help yourself in Court.

Court Forms

Clerk of the Circuit Court Forms Library

Filing Fees and Fee Waivers

Circuit Court of Cook County

Circuit Court Filing Fees - document

Illinois Legal Aid

Filing Court Papers for Free - webpage

Statutes and Court Rules

Illinois General Assembly

Code of Civil Procedures - webpage

Illinois Supreme Court

Court Rules - webpage
Part I.  Small Claims Rules - webpage

Circuit Court of Cook County

Orders of the Court, Rules of the Court, etc.

Research and Links

Clerk of the Circuit Court

Finding an Attorney - webpage
Navigating the Court System - document

Circuit Court of Cook County

Information about court organization, court locations, judge information, court holidays and the trial process can be found at the Circuit Court website.

Chicago Bar Association

Public Information Brochures - webpage

Illinois State Bar Association

Find a lawyer

American Bar Association

Consumer's Guide to Legal Help - Illinois - webpage

Additional Resources

Duhaime's Law Dictionary - website
Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau - website
Legal Explanations - website
Pro Se Law Center - website
Self Help Support - website