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Abstract

Looking into the pro se phenomenon, this paper will explore the lessons that can be learned from the experiences of the many individuals representing themselves in the American legal system today. Our interest in this paper will try to understand better the procedural values that matter to people and how they are related to having or not having professional legal representation. Does having a lawyer or not having a lawyer influence the experiences of lay people operating within the legal system, their evaluations of the process and the system, and of the outcomes obtained by them, and in what ways? Does having or being denied access to counsel influence one's decision to take a problem into court, and to what extent? Does feeling that one is denied access to a lawyer and/or court due to the inability to have legal representation have an influence upon non-lawyers? Finally, irrespective of why people do not have counsel, what can we say about the pro se experience that and what can we learn from the ways in which non-lawyers and legal actors interact within the legal system?

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