Lawyer-Assistance-Program Attorneys and the Practice of Therapeutic Jurisprudence
Court Review, Vol. 47, p. 64, 2011
4 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2011 Last revised: 23 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 22, 2011
This very brief essay urges LAP (lawyer assistance program) lawyers - those lawyers in long term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, and those coping with depression and other mental illness - to expand their practices and pro bono opportunities to include work in therapeutic jurisprudence, especially in areas of criminal and juvenile justice (e.g., civil commitment, juvenile and misdemeanor cases, drug treatment court, dependency drug court, mental health court, community court).Typically, LAP volunteer lawyers participate as a support system for lawyers in active treatment for addiction and mental health problems. But an expansion of their activities to serve general population clients facing behavioral and legal crises makes considerable sense: After all, these LAP lawyers in long-term recovery possess a special strength (including important practical and relevant knowledge about the problems at hand) and, if they are comfortable talking about their personal stories, will likely also have enhanced credibility - with courts and with clients themselves.This type of client representation should also serve as an avenue for the lawyers to "give back" for their reclaimed lives and practices, and, if representation arrangements are made with public defender offices, may also make a slight dent in the crushing caseloads of those offices. The next steps should be to encourage LAP lawyer participation and for lawyers and courts to think creatively about how such legal representation may best be logistically launched.
Keywords: therapeutic jurisprudence, lawyer assistance programs, alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, pro bono, public defenders
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