That’s What Friends Are For: Mentors, LAP Lawyers, Therapeutic Jurisprudence, and Clients with Mental Illness
19 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2011 Last revised: 24 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 16, 2013
This chapter serves first to introduce briefly the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) — the study of the impact of the law, legal procedures, and the role of legal actors on the emotional well-being of those affected by the law. It explains how TJ practices of lawyers and judges often find application in special problem-solving or ‘solution-focused’ courts — such as drug treatment courts, mental health courts, domestic violence courts, DWI courts, and most recently veterans courts. Many of those courts also have volunteers — often clients who have themselves successfully completed programs in such courts — who now serve as mentors for clients newly-admitted to those courts.
The chapter continues, however, by taking the ‘mentor’ concept to the professional level: speaking of lawyers and judges who have themselves confronted issues of drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. In prior work, the author opened up this topic principally in the context of drug and alcohol addiction. Here, that work is summarized but the analysis is broadened focus principally on lawyers who have had their own struggles with mental illness — a newer area of consideration, opened up principally by a few law professors brave enough to come forth and to tell their stories of struggles with mental illness.
The chapter then compares these lawyers and their ‘mentoring’ opportunities with the work of lawyers with addiction issues and begins a discussion of how they may serve, often in a ‘second chair’ advisory capacity, in civil commitment cases, mental health court cases, veterans court cases, and the like.
Keywords: therapeutic jurisprudence, LAP programs, lawyer assistance programs, disability, pro bono, civil commitment, mental health court, veterans court, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, alcoholism, mental illness
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