Helping Pro Se Litigatants
A "natural person" (that is, a human being, not a corporation, partnership, etc.) may litigate on his or her own behalf in both state and federal courts. No lawyer is needed. Lawyers refer to this as litigating "pro se" or "in propria persona" ("pro per").
Laypersons doing this can save a lot of money on lawyer's fees. But litigation is difficult, even for lawyers. Non-lawyers tend to know the substantive law (e.g. CEQA) better than they know the rules of civil procedure, court document-formatting standards, and the types of arguments that will persuade the court.
Advocates for the Environment will help non-lawyers with pro-se litigation under a special retainer agreement where we do not formally represent them in their cases, but provide advice for an hourly fee as needed.
We believe everyone should have access to the legal system.