Representing Yourself in Court

Service Information

Resources for Self-Represented Litigants

This page offers free internet resources for people representing themselves in court. In addition to highlighting free legal resources available on websites, the Cook County Law Library offers free access to legal resources at the Daley Center location and at our five branch locations. Search the Library catalog to find specific titles.

Self-represented litigants in Cook County can also access free legal information, advice, and referrals by calling the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS) Legal Aid Hotline at (312) 738-9200.

Topical Information


Court Procedure

State Legal Information

  • Finding Illinois Law: A Librarian’s Guide for Non-Lawyers - Chapters on how to read a legal citation, basic legal research techniques, and a glossary of legal terms with emphasis on Illinois law. From the Chicago Association of Law Libraries (CALL).
  • - Lists nonprofit legal aid providers in other states to help find information related to housing, work, family, bankruptcy, disability, immigration and other topics.

How to Research Legal Issues

Attorneys: Help Desks, Legal Assistance Providers, and Referral Services

  • IL Free Legal Answers is a free, online legal advice clinic where qualifying low-income Illinois residents can ask a volunteer lawyer a question about a civil (non-criminal) legal problem. 
    Visit for more information and to see if you qualify to use the service. 
  • Free or Reduced Fee Legal Aid - Resources on how to get free or reduced cost legal aid in Cook County.
  • Legal Assistance Referrals - Selection of links to legal aid providers in Chicago, suburban and downstate areas compiled by the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
  • Finding Freee or Low-Cost Legal Help (pdf) - Chicago Bar Foundation guide to legal aid in the Chicagoland area.
  • Legal Self Help Centers - Legal self-help center staff can help you find useful information on your legal problem, but cannot provide legal advice. Links to agencies in counties outside of Cook.

Courthouse Help Desks

There are many free help desks in Chicago and suburban courthouses.


If you believe you need the professional legal assistance of an attorney and want to hire an attorney, there are services to help you find legal representation. The following is a selected list of lawyer referral services and directories. The bar association referral services will match the caller with an attorney working in caller’s particular area of interest. Generally, the initial meeting involves a minimal cost to cover the administrative costs of the referral service. Before the meeting, check with the lawyer if there is any fee for their time/service. During or after your initial consultation, the lawyer will discuss the legal fees required to handle your matter. With these services there is generally no obligation on your part or the lawyer's to go beyond the first initial telephone contact or meeting.

  • Chicago Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service - (312) 554-2001
  • Chicago Bar Foundation Justice Entrepreneurs Project - (312) 546-3282
    • A network of independent lawyers offering lower cost services, often including fixed fee or flexible representation options
  • Cook County Bar Association Lawyer Referral - (312) 630-1157
  • IllinoisLawyerFinder (Illinois State Bar Association) - (800) 922-8757
  • North Suburban Bar Association (224) 935-6016
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association (224) 404-4845
  • South Suburban Bar Association (708) 633-9700
  • Southwest Bar Association of Chicago (708) 371-4930
  • West Suburban Bar Association (708) 338-2662

The following sites are searchable directories of attorneys:

PLEASE NOTE: The websites listed in this guide are for information only and are not endorsed or supported by the Cook County Law Library. Please independently verify the accuracy and currency of all information. Consult an attorney for legal advice.


Compiled by Jean Wenger

Updated August 2021 by David Sanborne