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Answers to Legal Questions You May Have Thought About But Never Asked

May 28, 2021 | Written by: Tracy B. Bussel, Esq. |

1.  Can I represent myself or a family member in a lawsuit?

You may represent yourself in a lawsuit. You will be referred to as a pro se party. provides some guidance in this regard. However, I suggest you reach out to an attorney who has familiarity with the type of action you are pursuing or defending. A lawyer can guide you through the process and provide much needed insight. If you do not know who to reach out to, a Google search can help as well as your county Bar Association, which can provide a referral for an attorney with experience in the relevant area.

If you are not a lawyer, you may not represent family members or friends and act as their attorney. That would be an unauthorized practice of law.

2.  Can I accompany a friend or family member to his/her meeting with an attorney?

The simple answer is yes, as you may be able to provide information to the attorney that your friend or family member has forgotten or fails to ask about. Please note, however, that if you are not a party to the case or a guardian over someone who is, advice or discussions with an attorney while you are present in the room could create issues regarding the attorney-client privilege.

3.  Can I attend the deposition of a family member or friend to provide support?

Again, the answer is you may, however, you do not have a right to be present for the questioning. What that means is that if you are not a party to the litigation, or a representative of a party who is, you can be excluded from the proceeding. I would suggest asking ahead of time if any of the parties or their attorneys have an issue with you being present. Just remember that while the deposition is in progress you may not assist the party being deposed with his/her responses.

4.  I received a subpoena to testify in a civil lawsuit…what do I do?

If you ignore the subpoena, you can be held in contempt of court. If you are concerned about testifying, consult an attorney to discuss your options.  Those options may include filing a motion in court to quash the subpoena (which means seeking a court order to avoid testifying) or having legal representation at the time of the deposition.

5.  I have heard the term “statute of limitations.” What is it and why is it important?

The statute of limitations sets forth a deadline for filing a claim, essentially acting as an expiration date. It begins when your injury took place, or in cases of negligence, when the injury was discovered. The time frame differs for each cause of action. There are exceptions to the rule under certain circumstances, and therefore if you feel you have been wronged or injured, it is best to consult an attorney right away so you can discuss whether you have a claim and the time frame for filing such.



Tracy B. Bussel, Esq., is a partner at Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC, and practices primarily in the areas of employment law, civil rights litigation, general liability, insurance defense, and the representation of public entities.  Contact Ms. Bussel at 908-735-5161 or via email.

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Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.