Lawyer and dispute resolution specialist Diane Levin, whose Mediation Channel blog (http://mediationchannel.com/) is on our blogroll, considers whether lawyers heal disputes or simply make things worse:
What happened to make people think the worst of lawyers, to believe that lawyers provoke not resolve conflict? And what are we going to do to change their minds?
This surely is an issue for employment lawyers, who must deal with some of the most difficult and seemingly intractable disputes imaginable. Some are very good at resolving disputes for their clients in a legally effective and psychologically healthy manner; others are blockheads who lack the legal acumen and emotional intelligence to serve their clients well.
Those who are not familiar with legal education may be stunned to know that the vast majority of law schools do not require their graduates to be exposed to key skills and tasks such as client counseling and negotiation. Furthermore, because law school admissions decisions are governed largely by collegiate grades and scores on the Law School Admissions Test, applicants who are book smart but people dumb can be admitted based on numbers alone. So, to answer Diane’s question of “what are we going to do?,” it seems that law school is a good starting place to make necessary changes.
Another source of inspiration and ideas is Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ), which examines how lawyers, law, and legal process serve therapeutic or anti-therapeutic purposes. I’ve blogged about TJ before and believe this emerging movement has tremendous promise for humanizing the law. For past posts and links, see https://newworkplace.wordpress.com/?s=therapeutic+jurisprudence.