Relationship-Centered Lawyering: Social Science Theory for Transforming Legal Practice
University of Puerto Rico Law Review, Vol. 78, 2009
30 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2008
Date Written: July 31, 2008
This article explores a new approach to legal practice grounded in human development and social interaction theories, and previews the contents of a forthcoming volume co-edited by its authors. The context for this approach is the deep and widespread yearning among legal professionals to recapture past idealized images of the 'citizen lawyer', guided by the dramatic changes that have occurred within the profession as well as in our increasingly global society. This yearning is reflected in the convergence of a number of movements that have swept across a wide swath of the legal profession - including practitioners, judges, and legal scholars/educators. Such movements include Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Preventive Law, Restorative Justice, Transformative Mediation, and Humanizing Legal Education. This forward-looking approach, called 'Relationship-Centered Lawyering,' directly responds to the call for a revitalized understanding of professionalism and professional training when it comes to the practice of law. A unique feature of this framework is its empirically tested scientific base. This relational approach is grounded in well-accepted principles and theories principally drawn from the mental health fields of social work and psychology. The relationship-centered approach calls upon lawyers to gain competency in three distinct areas: (1) contextualized understandings of human development; (2) just and effective legal process; and (3) affective and interpersonal competence.
Keywords: Professional Relationship, Carnegie, Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Social Science
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