Businesses sometimes seek to appear in court through their officers or other employees, and wonder whether this can be done.

The Wisconsin Constitution provides that any individual may represent himself/herself in court.  Unless licensed as an attorney in the state, however, no person may represent another person, corporation, partnership, association or organization in court; doing so constitutes the unauthorized practice of law according to Sec. 757.30(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes..

A business may be represented by a duly authorized employee in small claims court, by statutory exemption.  Otherwise, a nonlawyers’ representation of a business in ccourt, regardless of its form (unless it is a sole proprietorship, of course) is punishable as a misdemeanor, and can constitute contempt of court.

It may also lead to the dismissal of an action commenced by the business represented by a nonlawyer, or default judgment against a business which seeks to defend itself through a nonlawyer.  This is because the pleadings signed by the nonlawyer are considered fundamentally defective.