A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client


      • warn against self-representation in legal matters
        Express the idea that attempting to act as one's own lawyer in a legal proceeding is unwise and often results in negative consequences

      • criticize someone's decision-making abilities
        Suggest that someone who chooses to represent themselves in a legal matter is making a foolish or unwise decision

    Examples of A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client

    • John decided to represent himself in court, thinking he could save some money. However, the judge warned him, "Be careful, John. A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."

      This idiom means that someone who represents themselves in legal matters, without the help of a qualified lawyer, is putting themselves at a disadvantage and may end up making poor decisions or losing the case. The phrase "a fool for a client" is used to describe someone who is acting foolishly or irrationally. The idiom highlights the importance of seeking professional legal advice in complex legal situations.


    This idiom is used to discourage someone from acting as their own lawyer in a legal matter, and also to criticize their decision-making abilities. It carries a negative connotation and implies that the person is making a foolish or unwise choice.

    Origin of "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client"

    This idiom originated from the practice of self-representation in legal proceedings, which is known as "pro se" representation. The phrase was first recorded in the 19th century, attributed to American lawyer and politician, Abraham Lincoln. It is believed that Lincoln used this phrase to discourage his clients from representing themselves in court, as he believed it would not result in a fair trial.

    The idiom also has its roots in the concept of the "fool for a client" in English common law, which states that a person who represents themselves in court has a fool for a client. This is based on the belief that a person who is not trained in the law is at a disadvantage when facing experienced lawyers.

    In summary, this idiom serves as a cautionary tale against acting as one's own lawyer and highlights the potential negative consequences and lack of success in such a decision. It also reflects the belief that legal matters should be handled by trained professionals rather than individuals who lack the necessary knowledge and experience.