Proceeding Without an Attorney
(Pro Se)
Representing Yourself in the Eastern District of Texas

This section of our website includes tools that are intended to provide a general reference for pro se filers. It is not a substitute for the advice of professional legal counsel. Please keep in mind that employees of the district court are forbidden by law from giving legal advice. For more information, please read our Eastern District Guidelines for Pro Se Plaintiff's.

Proceeding Without Payment of the Filing Fee

Parties beginning a civil action in a district court are required to pay a filing fee set by statute. A plaintiff who is unable to pay the fee may file a request to proceed in forma pauperis. If the request is granted, the fees are waived. An application to proceed in forma pauperis is available in our forms section.

Finding a Lawyer

Local bar associations usually offer lawyer referral services, often without charge. The clerk's office in each district court usually is able to help find a referral service. But personnel in the clerk's office and other federal court employees are prohibited from providing legal advice to individual litigants.

Defendants in criminal proceedings have a right to a lawyer, and they are entitled to have counsel appointed at government expense if they are financially unable to obtain adequate representation by private counsel. The Criminal Justice Act requires a court determination that a person is financially eligible for court-appointed counsel. Defendants may be required to pay some of these costs.

There is no general right to free legal assistance in civil proceedings. Some litigants obtain free or low-cost representation through local bar association referrals, or through legal services organizations. Litigants in civil cases may also proceed pro se; that is, they may represent themselves without the assistance of a lawyer. A motion for appointment of counsel is available on our website under forms.