If I were in the United States today and do not have enough money to spend for the litigation of a case like my own divorce or child custody, I could be my own lawyer. It was a childhood dream, actually. Becoming a lawyer, you see.. top notch at that. But I digress.
"The number of people serving as their own lawyers is on the rise across the country, and the cases are no longer limited to uncontested divorces and small claims. Even people embroiled in child custody cases, potentially devastating lawsuits and bankruptcies are representing themselves, legal experts say".
In the United States, this is what is called pro se litigant. The Wikipedia states that:
'Pro se legal representation refers to the instance of a person representing himself or herself without a lawyer in a court proceeding, whether as a defendant or a plaintiff and whether the matter is civil or criminal. Pro se is a Latin phrase meaning "for oneself". This status is sometimes known as propria persona (abbreviated to "pro per").
In England and Wales the comparable status is "Litigant in Person". In the United States, many state court systems and the federal courts are experiencing an increasing proportion of pro se litigants. In the United States federal court system for the year 2007 approximately 27% of actions filed, 92% of prisoner petitions and 10% of non-prisoner petitions were filed by pro se litigants'.
See this Associated Press news article to find out fully what the fuzz is all about.
See the wikipedia entry about pro se legal representation here.