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The Civil Division handles Small Claims cases, Landlord/Tenant cases and General Civil cases.
Representing Yourself in District Court
We are frequently asked if you are required to have a lawyer for civil cases. The answer is no. You have the right to represent yourself without a lawyer, but if you choose to represent yourself you will be required to know and follow the court rules and the law. If you are not sure if you need or want a lawyer, you should consult with a lawyer before making your final decision. Note: a corporation or LLC must be represented by an attorney.
You may need a lawyer if:
- You want legal advice.
- You do not understand papers you received from the other party or from the court. (Court clerks may be able to answer some questions, but cannot interpret what a document means or tell you how you need to respond.)
- You cannot afford to lose your case.
- You have a complicated case.
- You want to appeal a case.
- 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:
- You understand your case well enough to explain it to a judge.
- You don't get overly nervous speaking in a public forum, like a courtroom.
- You are organized and keep accurate and complete records.
- You have time to prepare papers, make copies, learn the required steps, file papers with the court, do legal research and attend court hearings on your own.
- You are able to understand and respond promptly to all papers you receive from the other party or the Court.
- Your case is relatively simple.
- You are comfortable negotiating with the other side or their lawyer.
- When you read state laws, court rules and cases, you understand what you've read.
Where can I get help?
The Michigan Bar Association has information about legal assistance at www.michbar.org/public_resources/home. Information and assistance is also available from the Michigan Legal Help Program at www.michiganlegalhelp.org.
Court clerks are available to provide assistance and information regarding civil cases. However, court clerks are not attorneys and as such are prohibited from giving legal advice.
TX: (517) 483-4426
FX: (517) 483-7678