Therapeutic jurisprudence, employment law, and workplace bullying

I just returned from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, where I participated in a terrific symposium on Therapeutic Jurisprudence (or “TJ,” as it is conveniently abbreviated).  The Florida Coastal Law Review sponsored the program, with articles to be published later in a special symposium volume.


You may be asking, what is therapeutic jurisprudence, and what does it have to do with this blog?  TJ, according to law professor David Wexler, one of its founders, involves the “study of the role of the law as a therapeutic agent” by focusing “on the law’s impact on emotional life and on psychological well-being.”


Much of the scholarship and advocacy on TJ has been in fields such as criminal law and family law.  At this juncture, there is only a smattering of commentary on TJ and employment law.  In an effort to help fill that void, my talk and eventual article focus on what insights from psychology are useful towards framing how we look at employment law, using workplace bullying as the backdrop to my discussion.  Industrial/organizational psychology, occupational health psychology, and relational psychology are among the fields that should inform our understanding of the law of the workplace.  


My talk was well received, and the other presenters gave compelling, insightful talks.  With regard to workplace bullying, I stressed that the absence of legal protections for targets of severe mistreatment and the lack of legal incentives for employers to undertake preventive measures contribute to profoundly anti-therapeutic consequences for workers and workplaces.


Here is a list of presenters, drawn the Florida Coastal website (

Included among the honored speakers are the two founders of Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Bruce Winick, a professor of law at the University of Miami, and David Wexler, a professor of law at the University of Arizona. Professor Winick will be speaking on public health law relating to the elderly; Professor Wexler will speak on “form reform” in criminal law. The other honored speakers include:

  • Susan Daicoff: Professor of Law at Florida Coastal School of Law – on sexual harassment and discrimination law
  • David Yamada: Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School – on employment law
  • Kathy Cerminara: Professor of Law at Nova Southeastern University – on death and dying issues
  • Cindy Adcock: Professor of Law at Charlotte School of Law- on death and dying issues
  • Shelley Kierstead: Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School (Canada) – on family law
  • Marsha Freeman: Professor of Law at Barry University School of Law – on family law
  • Dax Miller: Third year student at Florida Coastal School of Law – on family law form reform

In addition, Susan Harthill, a Florida Coastal professor and member of the NWI advisory committee, served as a responder to my talk and shared some of her ideas about the potential application of workplace safety laws to bullying situations.


To learn about the International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, go here:  For an interesting paean to therapeutic jurisprudence and a plea for its greater presence in American law and procedure, see Mark Satin’s article in his Radical Middle newsletter:

One response

  1. Pingback: Law review essay on therapeutic jurisprudence and employment law « Minding the Workplace

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