Despite the fact that it is called “power of attorney,” a power of attorney will NOT substitute for a license to practice law. While a power of attorney may give you broad powers to act on someone else’s behalf, trying to represent someone else in a court of law without a valid law license could land you in jail.
Texas Penal Code Sections 38.122 and 38.123 (other states have similar statutes) make it a crime for a person to hold himself out as an attorney when he isn’t and to practice law without having a valid law license, if either is done in return for any type of benefit or compensation.
Although an unlicensed person may not represent another person in court, an unlicensed person may represent him or her own self in court. This is sometimes referred to as appearing “pro se,” a Latin phrase meaning “for oneself.” It is also referred to as “propria persona,” or “pro per,” for short, which is also based on a Latin phrase meaning “litigant in person.”
–Bonnie Sudderth, Judge of the 352nd District Court of Tarrant County, Texas