Friday, September 4, 2009

Pro Se Representation of LLCs

Question: We have come across some judges classifying an LLC as a type of corporation or an association which requires the use of an attorney for representation in court. Can an LLC represent itself through one of it's members (partnership) or through it's sole member (single member LLC) pro se without a lawyer in a court of law or other civil proceeding? Herman, New York.
Response: "The general rule for corporate representation is that corporations, as 'artificial entities, may only appear in court through an attorney.' Thus, any non-lawyer representing the corporation engages in 'the unauthorized practice of law.'" Link. LLCs with more than one member are clearly artificial legal entities that the law will treat no different than partnership, which must be represented by a lawyer in court. However, what about single-member LLCs? The IRS allows a single-member LLC to be disregarded for tax purposes (and treated as a sole proprietorship). It would seem to make sense that single member LLCs should be excepted from the general rule such that the sole member is allowed to represent the LLC in court. That argument was expressly rejected by the federal Court of Appeals in Lattanzio v. COMTA, 481 F.3d 137 (2nd Cir. 2007); see also Collier v. Cobalt LLC, 2002 WL 726640 (E.D. La. 2002). I'm not aware of a reported case where a court has allowed a single member LLC to proceed pro se (without a lawyer).


Anonymous said...

Why is legal always used instead of law when it suits courts and bar assoc. ? It time for natural law so all these made up legal practices will stop. Irs can tax and courts can say who can speak but no one addresses universal and natural law God will see all wrongs right!

Anita Dunn said...

Can a plaintive be added to the suit? In Canada you can add a plaintive through a "joiner", in this case an owner, and the owner can act as pro se.