Can a California Corporation Represent Itself in Court? AXIS Legal Counsel

Has your California corporation been sued? If so, you may be wondering whether the California corporation can represent itself in court without having to hire or pay for an attorney. Unfortunately, this is generally unlawful, and you should take caution that could be doing something illegal by appearing in court on behalf of the corporation. Can a California Corporation represent itself in Court for purposes of a lawsuit or legal proceedings? Read on for answers.

In California, you cannot appear in court for a corporation if you are merely a representative, officer or agent (like CEO, CFO, president, vice president, director, etc.), unless you are also licensed to practice law in California While it is true that a corporation stands on its own as a legal entity, or legal person, separate from its officers or stockholders, that does not necessarily mean the corporation can represent itself in court. Yes, they are treated as separate entities, but unless you are a licensed attorney, merely being an officer of the corporation doesn’t permit you to appear in court on behalf of the corporation. A licensed attorney to practice in California must appear on its behalf. Otherwise, you are engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.


If there no officer in your corporation is also a licensed attorney, hire an experienced licensed attorney to represent the corporation and its interests. Do your research and choose an attorney that understands your corporation’s legal issues and needs.  If your company does not appear in Court via an attorney, it is likely that a default judgment will be issued against the business. This could hurt your business’s ability to get loans, its credit rating, and payment terms from vendors.  It could also cause your corporation to be subject to judgment collection or enforcement activities.  If you have not been keeping good records, the other side could try to hold you personaly liable.

There’s a legal process that can often be lengthy and difficult. Should your corporation face a lawsuit, in general, you should expect a few things to happen:

Service of Process: The party suing files a lawsuit (a Complaint) and that same party must serve, timely and properly, with a Summons and copy of the filed Complaint. There are very specific rules on how the case is properly served or the court could throw out the case at this point if it is not done right.

Discovery Phase: This consists of two parts: 1) usually a case management conference is required for both sides to agree on how the case will be handled, and 2) the important “discovery” phase.

  1. Discovery involves each party collecting information about the case in preparation for trial. This includes facts, witness statements, and documents. This phase involves complicated rules and limitations when it comes to evidence that must be followed.
  2. When there is a case management conference set, it’s to see if all parties have properly filed everything properly and if the case can be settled or needs to move forward to trial.

Preparation for Trial or Possible Settlement: Depending on the type of case you have, a jury or a judge will decide your case. A trial date will be set either by the court or at a trial setting or case management conference. Before the trial date, the court may allow the parties to try and reach a settlement to avoid trial and this can happen up to the last moment before trial is to begin.

Trial: If no settlement occurs, parties go to trial to present their evidence that they gathered during the pretrial phase. This involves jury selection, presenting the opening statements for each side, opportunities for cross-examination of witnesses, and closing statements by each side before the judge or jury decides the case.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Law Firm to Represent Your California Corporation?

FeesButtonGetting legal help doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Most California corporations that are trying to determine whether they can represent themselves in court are often faced with budgetary issues and are looking for the most cost-effective solution possible to prevent a default judgment be entered against them for failing to properly respond to the lawsuit. Axis Legal Counsel represents businesses in a variety of legal matters often using very flexible rates and billing options. The billable hour is no longer the standard when it comes to lawsuit billing. Call us today and ask about our rate options, which include flat fee and project-based services, hybrid services, and other traditional billing options. We have represented clients using flat fee services, all the way through lawsuit, on a number of matters.

Getting Legal Help

Hiring an experienced corporate litigation attorney is not only required for a corporation in California, but hiring an experienced corporate litigation attorney will help you maneuver through the process to protect your corporation’s interests throughout the stressful and complex process. Axis Legal is experienced in representing California corporations in disputes with other businesses, employees, and other individuals. Contact today for a free and confidential consultation.

AXIS Legal Counsel represents clients in numerous types of business litigation disputes, lawsuits, and claims. AXIS offers representation to numerous clients involved with business litigation, including corporations, LLPs, LLCs, partnerships, and their  CEOs, presidents, executive directors, developers, entrepreneurs, founders, owners, start-ups, investors, partners, directors, employees, and numerous others, in numerous business disputes and disagreements. AXIS assists clients with breaches of contract, business torts, breaches of fiduciary duty, competitive business practices, complex litigation, contract disputes, defamation/slander, online reputational damage, partnership disputes, real estate litigation, services contracts, supply/distribution disputes, shareholder claims, non-solicit agreements, non-competes, trade secrets, patent litigation, trademark litigation, copyright litigation, and numerous other types of disputes.

For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent your company in  a business dispute, contact or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation, or visit our Business Disputes & Litigation Practice Area or  Business & Startups Portal for additional information.


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