Anticipating and Managing the Psychological Cost of Civil Litigation

Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Volume 34, Issue 1

26 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2018

See all articles by Michaela Keet

Michaela Keet

University of Saskatchewan College of Law

Heather D. Heavin

University of Saskatchewan

Shawna Sparrow

University of Saskatchewan - College of Law, Students

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

Despite growing national attention on the costs of accessing justice, surprisingly little information has been collected about the psychological ‘costs’ of engaging in litigation. This article summarizes the health and psychology literature, to present a picture of the impact that litigation can have on litigants’ health, state of mind, life goals and social relationships. Set against professional obligations embedded in the lawyer’s role, we assert that awareness of the negative impacts of legal processes on the emotional and psychological functioning of clients is important. With greater awareness, lawyers can better assess the value of litigation, prepare their clients (and themselves) for litigation stress, and, where appropriate, take preventative actions to minimize the negative aspects of the litigation experience. With that in mind, we identify positive solution-oriented responses to preventing, reducing and alleviating litigation stress. These strategies focus on client-centred communication, supports and planning.

Keywords: psychological 'costs' of litigation, access to justice, impact of litigation on litigants' health, positive solution-oriented responses

Suggested Citation

Keet, Michaela and Heavin, Heather D. and Sparrow, Shawna, Anticipating and Managing the Psychological Cost of Civil Litigation (2017). Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Volume 34, Issue 1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3148000

Michaela Keet (Contact Author)

University of Saskatchewan College of Law ( email )

Saskatoon, SK
Canada

Heather D. Heavin

University of Saskatchewan ( email )

College of Education
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A7
Canada

Shawna Sparrow

University of Saskatchewan - College of Law, Students

Saskatoon
Canada

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