A View from the Pro Se Bridge: Litigation from a Successful Perspective

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 90 minutes
Recorded Date: August 12, 2019
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  • Framing the Discussion
  • How Judges Respond
  • How Lawyers Respond
  • Fundamental Guidelines for Court and Counsel
  • Dealing with a Pro Se Adversary
  • Pro Se Strategies
  • Pro Se Filings
  • Recommendations and Change
Runtime: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Recorded: August 8, 2019


No studies have yet appeared that actually try to see cases through the eyes of a pro se litigant. Presumptions are made by professionals, but no article or book has been published that methodically looks at a case from the sustained perspective of a self-represented party as he or she goes through the practical steps of a legal proceeding, including trial. Furthermore, while many pro se individuals do not prevail in their cases, some do. It is critical for practitioners to understand how those rare but extant successful self-represented parties were able to overcome the odds, because this reality will inexorably become more a part of today's professional experience. Understanding how a successful pro se litigant prevailed can also offer a better understanding how a self-represented party may be thinking about his or her matter by approaching legal strategies unlike those to which traditional practitioners are acclimated.

This program was recorded on August 12th, 2019.

Provided By

American Bar Association


John P. Esser, Ph.D.

Senior Jury Consultant
Empirical Creative, LLC

John P. Esser is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Wagner College. He received his B.A. from Haverford College, and his J.D., M.S., and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he served as the Hewlett Fellow in Dispute Resolution. He is the co-editor of The Science of Courtroom Litigation: Jury Research and Analytical Graphics (forthcoming, ALM/Law Journal Press), as well as author and co-author of several chapters within. In addition, he has published articles on the changing form of contract law, on dispute resolution, and on the history of American jurisprudence in journals such as Law and Social Inquiry and the Denver University Law Review, and has presented papers on these topics at academic forums such as the American Association of Law Schools, The Law & Society Association, and the Social Science History Association.

Dr. Esser is also involved in curricular reform in higher education. He has made presentations on this topic at various meetings of the American Association of Colleges and Universities and been quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education. As a trial consultant, he has worked on some of the most noted corporate fraud cases of the past five years. He is licensed to practice law in the State of New York.

Dave has a B.A. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from St. John’s University. He is a licensed psychologist in the State of New York. Dave has a long-standing interest in and experience with using social-science research methods to empirically study and understand group dynamics and the relationship between attitudes and behaviors. His academic background in clinical psychology and social science research combined with his extensive practical experience as a jury consultant makes him an invaluable asset to trial teams.

Abraham Unger

Associate Professor, Government & Politics Dept.
Wagner College

Abraham Unger, Ph.D., is Associate Professor and Director of Urban Programs in the Department of Government and Politics at Wagner College. He is a Visiting Research Scholar in the Political Science Department at Fordham University. Dr. Unger is also working with the McGinley Chair of Religion and Society at Fordham on issues of faith and the public square in the U.S. He serves as Senior Research Fellow at the Carey Institute of Government Reform. Dr. Unger consults on urban economic development projects. He served as Project Manager of the East Shore Local Development Corporation, where he implemented a major HUD grant in a disadvantaged New York City community strongly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. He has been a member of the Staten Island Borough President’s Strategic Policy Advisory Committee.

Dr. Unger is the author of numerous papers and three peer reviewed books, including the volumes Business Improvement Districts in the United States (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), A Jewish Public Theology (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) and The Death and Life of the American Middle Class (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Dr. Unger has also contributed to popular publications, including the New York Jewish Week and Huffington Post. In 2019 he became a contributor to the Washington, D.C. news website The Hill. Dr. Unger’s primary research field is public policy, with an emphasis on urban economic development and social policy.

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