In general, no. In the courts of the State of New
York, adult individuals may prosecute or defend a civil action in
person, but a corporation or association may do so only through an
attorney. N.Y. C.P.L.R. 321(a). So, too, a limited liability
company must appear in a lawsuit by an attorney.
However, New York's First Department and the Second
Department each have held that an individual assignee of a
corporation may sue without a lawyer, "despite the fact that the
assignment may have been made to circumvent the statutory prohibition against a
corporation appearing pro se." Traktman v. City of New York,
182 A.D.2d 814, 815 (2d Dep't 1992); see also Kinlay v. Henley,
57 A.D.3d 219, 220, 868 N.Y.S.2d 62 (1st Dep't 2008); Kamp v. In Sportswear
Inc., 39 A.D.2d 869, 332 N.Y.S.2d 983 (1st Dep't 1972), rev'g on
dissenting opinion below, 70 Misc.2d 898, 335 N.Y.S.2d 306 (App. Term
The above-stated rule that a corporation or an
association may not appear pro se in a civil action does not apply to
partnerships, or to law firms incorporated as professional
corporations. Gilberg v. Lennon, 212 A.D.2d 662, 664, 622 N.Y.S.2d
962 (2d Dep't 1995).
Further, in the Small Claims parts of the lower courts of
New York State, exceptions exist to the above-stated rule that a corporation or
association may only prosecute or defend a civil action through an
A corporation may appear without a lawyer in the
"commercial" Small Claims part of the New York City Civil Court and of the
district and city courts, and in the usual Small Claims part of those courts and
of the town and village courts. N.Y. City Civ. Ct. Act § 1809-A(d); N.Y.
Uniform Dist. Ct. Act § 1809-A(d); N.Y. Uniform City Ct.
Act § 1809-A(d); see N.Y. City Civ. Ct. Act §
1809(2); N.Y. Uniform Dist. Ct. Act § 1809(2); N.Y. Uniform City Ct.
Act § 1809(2).
In the usual (non-"commercial") Small Claims part of the
New York City Civil Court, of the district and city courts, and of the town and
village courts, a corporation lacking an attorney is allowed only to
defend (not prosecute) a small claim. N.Y. City Civ. Ct. Act § 1809(2);
N.Y. Uniform Dist. Ct. Act § 1809(2); N.Y. Uniform City Ct.
Act § 1809(2).
If your company wants to bring, or needs a lawyer to
defend it in, business litigation and you are located in the New York
City area, call Attorney David S. Rich at (212) 209-3972.
Visit the New York Business Litigation and Employment Attorneys Blog
for commentary regarding business litigation, employment, and securities
related legal issues.
For more information about LexisNexis
products and solutions connect with us through our corporate site.