Self-Help Clinic

What is self-representation?

A person who goes to court without an attorney is called "self-represented" or "pro se." Pro se is a Latin term that means "for oneself."

You have the right to appear in Court without an attorney, but you are expected to know and follow the court rules and the law. Because these laws and rules can be difficult to understand, it is best that you have an attorney help you. If you decide to represent yourself, helpful information can be found at the MN Courts website.

Where can I find help?

If you have an open Court case in Becker County, or you plan to start a Court action in Becker County, there is a Self-Help Clinic.

The Self-Help Clinic is located in the Becker County Law Library, which is in the basement of the Becker County Courthouse, 915 Lake Avenue, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

You can get personal help from an attorney or paralegal on Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The help available during this time is on a first come, first served basis.

What kind of help can I get?

  • You can receive court forms and instructions that fit your situation at the Self-Help Clinic. There is no charge for those forms. You can also get the form packets at the MN Courts forms page.
  • You can take the forms home to complete or you can complete them at the Clinic.
  • The Court will not accept your forms unless they have been completed properly. You also need to attach all the necessary documents.
  • The Self-Help Clinic is open on Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. An attorney or paralegal will be there at that time. They can review your papers before you file them with the Court.
  • Once you are ready to file your papers with the Court, you will have to pay a filing fee. If you do not have the money to pay the fee, you can ask the court to accept your papers without paying a fee. You will need to give the Court a form called a "fee waiver." You can get those forms at the Self-Help Clinic.
  • Remember, help is provided on a first come, first serve basis. You may need to wait before someone can help you. You may also need to make more than one visit to get all the help you need.
  • Self-help personnel cannot provide you with legal advice. They are also not responsible for what happens in your Court case.
  • It is always a good idea to have an attorney help you in Court. They have been trained in Court rules and the law. If you want an attorney, but cannot pay for one, contact Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota. You may be able to get free legal help. The telephone number is 800-450-8585 or 218-233-8585. Also see the Law Library Helpful Links page.
  • If you make too much money for free legal help, you can contact the Minnesota State Bar Association's Lawyers Referral Service at MN Find a Lawyer. This is a free online service where you will find available the names of attorneys in your area who might be able to help you. Such attorneys may be willing to help you at a reduced fee. Also see the Law Library Helpful Links page.