In California, you cannot have a lawyer represent you in small claims court. You must represent yourself, but there are a few exceptions to this rule. These exceptions depend mostly on who you are, and your relationship with the person who you want to represent you. The person representing you or your business, must complete and file a special form (SC-109) before presenting at the hearing.
If you are suing on behalf of a business:
Corporations → can be represented by employees, managers, owners, or directors of that corporation.
Partnerships → can be represented by employees, managers, directors, owners, or partners of that partnership.
Other incorporated businesses, like Limited Liability Companies or other business entities (that are not corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships) → can be represented by employees, owners, managers, or directors of that LLC or entity.
Sole Proprietorships (if you are an individual that has a business and this business is not incorporated as an LLC, corporation, or other legal entity) → can be represented by employees if they are qualified to present at court about business records involving the lawsuit.
Landlords → Owners of rental property in California can be represented by property agents who help manage the rented property.
Associations → These can be represented by agents, representatives, or bookkeepers of that association.
If you are suing on behalf of yourself:
Spouses → If both spouses are suing, and they are both listed on the lawsuit, then they can agree that either spouse can represent the other.
Military veterans assigned to duty outside of the USA for more than six months → Veterans have strict representative rules, and may choose at their own discretion, provided the representative is not paid and has not represented other people more than four times in the last year.
People in jail, prison, or a detention facility → someone who is incarcerated can have someone represent them provided the representative is not paid and has not represented other people in small claims court more than four times in the last year.
Other → For very specific situations, a judge may approve that someone (not a lawyer) represent you in court.
Learn more about who can represent you in court here.