Changing Patterns of Legal Representation in Divorce: From Lawyers to Pro Se

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Governmental assistance for legal representation in civil cases is far greater in the United Kingdom than in the United States of America. This article explores the extent of legal support for low–income Americans, particularly in the area of family law. Examination of the data on self–representation across the United States and over time shows decreased reliance on lawyers. Drawing on institutional and individual perspectives, the article then explores why individuals choose to represent themselves in divorce. What do lawyers add to a divorce besides cost? The article suggests patterns of lawyering depending upon the lawyer and the resources of the client. While some pro se individuals may thrive in the divorce process without the need of a lawyer, others are disadvantaged by the lack of services available to them. The matching process between case needs and legal representation does not work.

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Journal of Law and Society

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