Therapeutic Jurisprudence

I was intrigued when I came across the term “therapeutic jurisprudence”, in light of jurisprudence having been my favourite subject at law school and the amount of time I’ve spent in therapy. Jokes aside, this is a very interesting area of conscious law, or integrative law. I really hope to find more information on South African lawyers and organisations, perhaps NGO’s, who are working in this area.

The following are extracts from Wikipedia: (I put the bit I like in bold!)

Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) is a term first used by Professor David Wexler, University of Arizona Rogers College of Law and University of Puerto Rico School of Law, in a paper delivered to the National Institute of Mental Health in 1987. Along with Professor Bruce Winick, University of Miami School of Law, who originated the concept with Wexler, the professors suggested the need for a new perspective, TJ, to study the extent to which substantive rules, legal procedures, and the role of legal actors (lawyers and judgesprimarily) produce therapeutic or antitherapeutic consequences for individuals involved in the legal process.

Therapeutic Jurisprudence also has been applied in an effort to reframe the role of the lawyer. It envisions lawyers practicing with an ethic of care and heightened interpersonal skills, who value the psychological well being of their clients as well as their legal rights and interests, and to actively seek to prevent legal problems through creative drafting and problem-solving approaches.

The impact of Therapeutic Jurisprudence on lawyering was documented in Stolle, Wexler, and Winick’s 2000 book, Practicing Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Law as a Helping Profession. TJ also has begun to transform legal education, in particular clinical legal education. These developments were documented in a 2005 symposium issue of the St. Thomas University Law Review, “Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Clinical Legal Education and Skills Training.”

In 2008, Wexler published an edited volume dedicated to therapeutic jurisprudence and the criminal defense attorney. The book is entitled Rehabilitating Lawyers:Principles of Therapeutic Jurisprudence for Criminal Law Practice (Carolina Academic Press 2008)

I hope, by writing about movements like this,  I may be able to give exposure to the positive work being done around the world to make legal systems and legal professionals more conscious.


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