Can a Corporation Represent Itself In California ?

In California a corporation may not represent itself, except in a small claims proceeding. This prohibition stems from the notion a corporate representative who would likely appear on behalf of the corporation would be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law. (Merco Construction Engineers, Inc. v. Municipal Court (1978) 21 Cal. 3d 724 147 Cal. Rptr. 631, 581 P.2d 636.) The ban on corporate self-representation does not prevent a court from granting a motion to withdraw as attorney of record, even if it leaves the corporation without representation. Such an order puts pressure on the corporation to obtain new counsel, or risk forfeiting important rights through nonrepresentation. ( Ferruzzo v. Superior Court (1980) 104 Cal. App. 3d 501, 504 163 Cal. Rptr. 573.) It is the duty of the trial judge to advise the representative of the corporation of the necessity to be represented by an attorney. ( Van Gundy v. Camelot Resorts, Inc. (1983) 152 Cal. App. 3d Supp. 29, 31 199 Cal. Rptr. 771.)