Making the Decision to Self-Represent

Are you considering whether or not you will handle a legal matter, particularly a matter that is going to court, without the assistance of a lawyer? The following resources, as well as those listed in the other Preparing for Court sections (see the menu on the left), may inform your decision.


CPLEA Suggested Resources

Not sure where to begin finding answers to your questions. Get started with our suggested resources. See additional resources below for more information.

Alberta Resources

An instructional video from the Canadian Bar Association Alberta branch demonstrates the basics of procedure in civil court for non-lawyers. It is about 25 minutes in length, and uses common types of courtroom disputes to explain the kinds of evidence you may need for your case as well as how to organize and present that evidence to the judge.

Related legal topic(s): Courts and court judgments, Legal process, Self-representation

The Resolution and Court Administration Services Division provides administrative support to all the courts within the province, including electronic legal information services through Alberta Law Libraries. Topics in this section of the Alberta Courts website include: Mediation Programs; Family Justice Services; Court Forms and Orders Services (formly known as the Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) and LInC - Law Information Centres); Judgments; Jury Duty; ; Sheriff - Civil Enforcement; Review / Assessment Office; Rules of Court; Transcript Management Services; Publications; Video Conferencing. They also offer: Information services for the public on court procedures and legal services options; assistance with locating and filling out court forms; and referrals to other community legal services, as well as assessment services, dispute resolution services for child support, family and child medication, conflict intervention, family mediation, and civil mediation to help parties who filed an action in small claims court to reach a negotiated settlement.

Related legal topic(s): Civil actions, Legal process, Legal services, Mediation and alternative dispute resolution, Self-representation, Small claims court

This group of programs and services is offered by Alberta Justice in collaboration with the courts of Alberta. This webpage provides general information for those who are representing themselves in a family matter in either Court of Queen's Bench or The Provincial Court of Alberta.

This service is for people who don’t have a lawyer. Use it to:

  • prepare for court
  • navigate your family law matter through the Provincial Court
  • discuss your issues, explore your options and get you referrals
  • get a court order prepared and filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench and then have copies sent to the other party – after a parenting-related hearing
  • review your divorce before its submitted to the Court of Queen’s Bench
Related legal topic(s): Adoption, Custody and access, Divorce and separation, Family law general resources, Self-representation, Spousal support

Part of the Alberta Court Services is access to the Alberta Law Libraries. The primary mission of Alberta Law Libraries is to facilitate access to legal information for the Alberta community, including its judiciary, lawyers, citizens, libraries and government agencies. A section of their website is dedicated to helping Albertans Get pointed in the right direction as they begin their legal research. mbers of the Alberta Law Libraries (ALL) team have prepared research guides on legislation, case law and a variety of subject-specific areas. In these guides, you will find information, resources and links about several areas of law. Alberta Law Libraries (ALL) were formed in 2009 when Alberta Court Libraries and Alberta Law Society Libraries were amalgamated. ALL has served the legal community in Alberta since 1885 and use of our collections is free to all who visit our libraries.

Related legal topic(s): Law libraries, Self-representation

The Rules of Court as published by Alberta Queen's Printer are available for free download in PDF format: Volume 1 - Alberta Rules of Court AR 124/2010 at 692 pages and Volume 2 - Alberta Rules of Court Supplemental Information at 506 pages.

Related legal topic(s): Legal process

The goal of this document is to help self-represented litigants (SRLs) navigate CanLll in order to prepare for the presentation of their cases - in court, in chambers, or as part of a negotiation or mediation

Related legal topic(s): Legal research

This website offers information to consider before you sue, if you are being sued, and the process that is involved. Information that is available on this website includes: The Basics; Civil Claim Flowchart; Before You Sue; Is it Worth Suing?; If You Have to Sue Someone; Forms Needed for a Civil Claim; Service of Documents; If You are Being Sued; Mediation and Pre-Trial Conferences; Adjournments; Default Judgment; Preparation for the Hearing; Witnesses; Courtroom Etiquette; After the Appearance; and Appeals.

Related legal topic(s): Civil actions, Legal process, Small claims court

Booklet developed by Alberta Provincial Court with information on civil law and suing process. It includes information on alternatives and selecting a jurisdiction before suing, costs and time limits, forms and documents, mediation, witnesses, courtroom etiquette, court judgments, etc. It also provides a glossary of terms and examples of forms, as well as information on other resources, such as lawyer referral services, dial-a-law, and civil offices. (PDF - 29 pages)

Related legal topic(s): Civil actions, Civil law, Legal process, Self-representation

This primer, published by the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, is packed with the information and practical self-help tips for preparing yourself, emotionally and technically, for court. It includes a section on self-care tips; a section on preparing for court; a section on appearing in court (generic and not specific for any one jurisdiction, family or civil courts); and finally a collection of ten top practical tips from self-represented litigants on “what works”. This 25-page PDF is available for free download.

Related legal topic(s): Legal process, Self-representation

This information discusses the procedures of the Civil Division of the Provincial Court. The Civil division is often referred to as Small Claims Court. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. Information is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

Related legal topic(s): Civil actions, Courts and court judgments, Legal process

Going to court? Here are some tips and information on what to do in court. (Video) Produced in coordination with PBLA and Alberta Courts. Video Transcripts are available in :  English | Spanish | French | Arabic | Hindi | Punjabi | Urdu

Related legal topic(s): Civil actions, Legal process, Self-representation

Going to court? Here are some tips and information on understanding your foreclosure matter. (Video) Produced in coordination with PBLA and Alberta Courts. Video Transcripts are available in :  English | Spanish | French | Arabic | Hindi | Punjabi | Urdu

Related legal topic(s): Bankruptcy and foreclosure, Civil actions, Legal process, Real estate and home ownership, Self-representation

This online resource is from the Student Legal Services of Edmonton. Includes information about: General Impressions; Court Procedure; Speak To Sentence; Concluding The Court Appearance; Types Of Sentences; Final Note. This resource is also available for download in PDF form.

Related legal topic(s): Legal process, Self-representation

This booklet outlines some basic information you must be aware of if you plead not guilty to an offence and are planning to represent yourself without a lawyer at your trial. It also provides some advice on how to find a lawyer. The booklet explains what happens during the criminal trial process. The information will help you prepare for your trial if you don’t have a lawyer. If you choose to represent yourself, you are still subject to the law, including rules of procedure and the laws of evidence.

Related legal topic(s): Criminal law general resources, Legal process, Self-representation

This booklet offers some basic information that you should be aware of if you choose to represent yourself in Provincial Court - Family. The booklet focuses on preparing for and conducting a trial when you are not represented by a lawyer. This booklet includes information about:

  • Resolution options and services that can help you solve your family law issues
  • Making a Family Law Act application in the Provincial Court of Alberta
  • Answers to questions many people have
  • Court processes and court language
  • How to find a lawyer
  • Preparing for trial if you do not have a lawyer
Related legal topic(s): Family law general resources, Legal process, Self-representation

This booklet produced by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) explains how the legal process works in Alberta. The booklet has information for people who were legally married and people who lived in a common law relationship.

Related legal topic(s): Family law general resources, Self-representation

Produced by Student Legal Services of Edmonton. Includes information about: The Case Is Called; The Trial Begins; The Exclusion Order; The Crown's Case; The Defence’s Case; Submissions; Decision; Vocabulary. This resource is also available to download as a PDF.

Related legal topic(s): Criminal law general resources, Legal process, Self-representation

This pamphlet from the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta explains some basic points about the Alberta Rules of Court. It may assist you if: you have a legal problem and are looking at your options; you are deciding whether to hire a lawyer or represent yourself; you are already representing yourself; or you have questions for your lawyer about the court process. The Alberta Rules of Court apply to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. They do not apply in Provincial Court (Small Claims Court). This 2 page full-colour PDF is available for free download.

Related legal topic(s): Civil actions, Legal process, Self-representation

This online tutorial created by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta  explains what it's like in a criminal courtroom. There are often many people in a courtroom. Knowing who is who, what each person's role is, and what is expected of you as a witness should help you understand what is going on around you.

Related legal topic(s): Criminal law general resources, Legal process, Self-representation

Canada/Federal

This 20 page outline takes you through purpose and structure, how to prepare, consequences (what to do if you get an agreement and what if you do not), and is packed with practical tips on how to think about settlement strategy from mediators, judges and lawyers – and other SRLs.

Related legal topic(s): Legal process, Self-representation

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