Negotiating Grief and Trauma in the Coronial Jurisdiction
(2016) 23 JLM 582
13 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2016
Date Written: 2016
This article is placed within the wider context of lawyer wellbeing research, which evidences abnormally high levels of depression, substance abuse and suicide among the legal profession. To date, however, relatively few works have sought to explore the phenomenon of lawyer distress in particular segments of the legal services industry. This article seeks to explore and understand the affective experiences of legal professionals working in the coronial jurisdiction. It examines the ways in which solicitors, barristers and coroners negotiate grief and trauma in the performance of a public role. The point of departure is an enduring conflict between the responsibilities of office and the cultivation of intimate relations. In exploring the likelihood of distress among legal personnel in the coronial jurisdiction, this article looks not only to research on the wellbeing of legal personnel, but to the literature on vicarious or secondary trauma reactions and compassion fatigue among professions dealing with trauma. In examining the different ways in which legal personnel manage and negotiate grief and trauma, the article draws on the sociological concept of intimate citizenship to suggest that the operational model of the court, informal networks among professionals and strong personal relationships may serve to ameliorate distress.
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