April 25 2023
In this sixth installment of societal betterment I want to talk more about the wholistic approach to law, a trauma informed model of lawyering, and a Hippocratic notion of legal services.
The wholistic approach to the law begins with recognizing as a principle of restorative justice that when a harm occurs there is trauma that is visited upon the recipient of the damage and the person causing the damage. Healing needs to occur for the survivors of the incident especially if the person contributed to the violence involved in the situation. Recognizing that harm is cyclical requires taking a close look at how past trauma becomes revisited and is recreated and repeated by the survivors of earlier trauma. Intergenerational harm exists within families and can contribute to problematic behavior. Learning to work through past trauma and develop healthier relationships is one goal of restorative justice. In this way the law recognizes the importance familial relationships plays on behavioral patterns. By working with this interconnectivity restorative justice can implement positive shifts by promoting healthier relationships and better coping mechanisms. Integrating psychology, medical interventions and sociological research, wholistic lawyering involves working with the individuals on a level that goes beyond the immediate legal crisis of the individual and extends into the long term outcomes focused on income, employment, housing, medical treatment, counselling, and other supports for the clients.
Trauma informed lawyering emphasizes the need for emotional understanding and an appreciation of the ways in which trauma affects the clients the lawyer is working with, as well as the ways in which the trauma experienced by the clients has an effect on the lawyer handling the case. Understanding that we are all human, a trauma informed lawyer takes time to deal with the stresses of the job by attending regular counselling sessions and tending to their own mental health needs so that they are in a better position to help their clients. Trauma informed lawyering involves helping clients process and work through their trauma in a supportive and informed environment so that the client can make better decisions about their legal issues.
Empathic understanding, active listening, compassionate communication, and de-escalation techniques are all part of trauma informed lawyering. Allowing the client space to move beyond the immediate crisis creates positive shifts in the relationship and in the outcomes.