Legal Practice

Therapeutic jurisprudence has significant implications for legal practice, offering an approach that promotes a more comprehensive resolution of legal problems and a more personally rewarding experience for both client and lawyer. It suggests that legal problems need to be considered in the context of the client's overall wellbeing. Of course, the best interest of the client has always been a primary concern of lawyers and wellbeing is often a part of that consideration. However, therapeutic jurisprudence suggests that findings from the behavioural sciences can be used to enable a lawyer to take a systematic and comprehensive approach to promoting client wellbeing in all cases.

The most visible illustration of therapeutic legal practice is in the work of lawyers representing clients in problem-solving courts. However, client wellbeing is an integral part of a diverse range of legal problems. For example, family law litigation concerns not only financial and child issues but also the wellbeing of separating parties and their children and the need to promote healing.

A chronic drug user may secure an acquittal in a criminal case due to inadequacy of evidence or a deficiency at law. A civil litigant feuding with a neighbour may secure a win in a dividing fence case. But in each case, the client is likely to have ongoing legal problems if the underlying issues are not addressed. In some cases, the very litigation can amply points of difference and compound legal and associated problems. How can a lawyer help the client to resolve such issues? This area is a part of therapeutic jurisprudence.

Therapeutic legal practice overlaps with other approaches to advocacy such as preventive law - which seeks to identify and address sources of future potential legal problems - collaborative law - which seeks to resolve family law problems through non-adversarial, non-litigious, collaborative advocacy and holistic law - which seeks to address all dimensions of a legal problem.

Therapeutic jurisprudence also considers the adverse impact of legal education and adversarial legal processes and practices on lawyer wellbeing and suggests reforms to address problems in this area.

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