skip to Main Content
 +46 8 791 8944

The World Law Dictionary Project

English may be the common language of the world, but the Common Law is not the common law of the world

That’s why, in a unique project, TransLegal has teamed up with leading law schools from around the world to create an online multilingual law dictionary linking the world’s legal languages to a single English law dictionary.

e.g. principle, consideration, jurisdiction
# a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

pro se adverb

the term pro se is used as both an adjective and an adverb when referring to something that you do on your own behalf. It is often used to refer to people who present their own cases in court without lawyers or other representatives.
After firing three privately retained attorneys, Collins proceeded pro se at a jury trial in 2001.

Hello, welcome to TransLegal's lesson of the week.

Today we're going to talk about some Latin terms which have to do with representing yourself in court.

We will start with pro se. That's a Latin term meaning on one's own behalf and in a court setting it refers to persons who present their own cases without lawyers or other representatives. Now some people choose to act pro se because they have legal experience or they're otherwise very confident about their ability to convey their claim or their defence without any assistance. Other people may simply wish to avoid paying attorney's fees and the often exorbitant expenses associated with hiring a lawyer.

Now here's an example of a pro se litigant. "Due to her experience in the field, the Harvard Law School professor proceeded as a pro se defendant in the case regarding real property".

Now there are a few other Latin phrases which have the same meaning as pro se but they're just used in other jurisdictions. We have in propria persona which is often abbreviated as in proper and you hear it in a phrase like "the appellants are before this court in propria persona in the latest instalment of their lengthy dispute".

And we have pro persona, very similar, and you would hear it in a phrase like "the accused raised additional issues in a pro persona brief".

Now in England and Wales a phrase that is usually used is an English phrase – litigant in person. Nice and easy to understand and you really don't need any explanation from me.

Now most pro se litigants are at a disadvantage in contested litigation. It may be awkward or inappropriate for them to appear both as counsel and as a witness. They're deprived of the judgment of an independent third party in framing the case, in evaluating how to present the evidence and in forming legal arguments and also in making sure that it is reason rather than emotion that steers how the case is conducted. That's why Judges sometimes warn a party who is proceeding pro se of the old saying that anyone who represents himself in court has a fool for a client and an ass for an attorney.

Thanks for listening. Please leave us some comments in the box below and I'll see you again soon.

This is a limited preview!

To see an example of a full dictionary entry click one of the example entries

jurisdiction consideration principal

Phrase Bank

Close search


Back To Top

Expand your Legal English vocabulary word by word

Online and free each and every week!