Know How to Cite!
There are two clear signs of someone that doesn't know what they are doing and that marks them as 1) trouble for the court/judge, and 2) easy pickings for the lawyer on the other side of the case.
The first sign is someone that uses terminology incorrectly or mispronounces legal terms. ONLY use a Black's Law Dictionary to learn how words/terms are pronounced and what they mean. As we've said in other articles Black's Law Dictionary should never, ever be cited as authority or used for any other purpose. Almost every lawyer owns one but after their first six months or so of practice they never use it again. If you are representing yourself buy one, refer to it, but never mention it.
However, the second hint that a person representing themselves does not know what they are doing is that they will mess up the citations they use in their briefs. The worst part is, this is probably the easiest thing to learn of everything that has to be learned by a pro se litigant. There is a book which lawyers common refer to as "The Blue Book" (The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation) which explains exactly how to write a case citation. The investment in this book is even less than for the Black's Law Dictionary and will allow a person to at least make their written documents look professional and, with some of the stricter judges, prevent the judge from striking the case citation or the brief and making the pro se party redo it.
I am putting a link to both of these books on Amazon below so there is no excuse for not having them as a part of your arsenal. While we believe The Guerrilla Guides to the Law are an invaluable resource, both Black's Law Dictionary and the Blue Book are so good that we won't be putting out a version of them. They are already as good as they can get!
Remember, Black's Law Dictionary is for your own use as a reference tool, don't ever, ever, ever cite to it.