Lawyering and Learning in Problem-Solving Courts

55 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2011 Last revised: 17 Dec 2012

See all articles by Paul Holland

Paul Holland

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: 2011


The introduction of Drug Courts and other problem-solving courts has brought significant change to the American criminal justice system. This change has required lawyers working in these courts to re-examine their role and to re-consider and re-calibrate the nature of their interactions and relationships with their clients and all of the other actors in the system. This Article looks beyond the rhetorically charged debate that has marked these changes and offers instead a close examination of the actual experience of lawyers, judges, and most importantly, defendant-participants, in these courts. This examination demonstrates that many of the traditional values embedded in the role of lawyer for the accused have a central place within these new-model courts, provided lawyers are prepared to adapt the forms of practice through which they pursue those values. This Article urges clinical law teachers to play a leading role in transcending this debate and preparing modern law students for this increasingly important method of practice. In doing so, the Article highlights those aspects of the clinical pedagogical tradition that are best-suited to the new type of practice as well as the ways in which problem-solving court will require clinical teachers to adapt and stretch to a degree similar to the practitioners already confronting these challenges.

Keywords: Problem-solving courts

Suggested Citation

Holland, Paul, Lawyering and Learning in Problem-Solving Courts (2011). Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 34, 2011, Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 11-08, Available at SSRN:

Paul Holland (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA n/a 98122
United States
206-398-4135 (Phone)
206-398-4310 (Fax)

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