Steady readers of this blog may be familiar with my work in the field of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ), a school of legal philosophy and practice that examines the therapeutic and anti-therapeutic properties of laws and public policies, legal and dispute resolution systems, and legal institutions. TJ values psychologically healthy outcomes in legal disputes and transactions, without claiming exclusivity in terms of policy objectives. For nearly a decade, TJ has played a significant role in shaping how I look at law and public policy, especially as related to workplace issues.
Now I am delighted to be playing a role in forming the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ Society), a new, non-profit, learned association established to advance the field of therapeutic jurisprudence on a global scale. The TJ Society shall advance these overall purposes by supporting legal and interdisciplinary scholarship; identifying and promoting best professional and judicial practices; sponsoring conferences, workshops, and seminars; and hosting and participating in print, electronic, social media platforms.
As of mid-June 2017, the founding trustees of the TJ Society are engaged in the following activities:
- Planning for a panel discussion to launch and discuss the TJ Society, to be held at the July 2017 Congress on Law and Mental Health in Prague, Czech Republic, hosted by the International Academy of Law and Mental Health;
- Finalizing articles of incorporation and initial by-laws;
- Creating a global advisory council of law faculty, attorneys, judges, and scholars and practitioners from complementary fields, a group that we anticipate will grow significantly over time;
- Expanding the TJ Society Board of Trustees, especially with an eye toward more diverse geographic representation and subject-matter expertise;
- Developing a website for the TJ Society; and,
- Consolidating, where applicable and desired, existing TJ activities under the TJ Society rubric.
The TJ Society will be a membership organization, with annual dues set at an affordable, accessible level. During this summer, we are building the basic infrastructure of the organization. However, the following months and years will engage a lot more people and involve a lot more activities. The latter include, but are hardly limited to:
- Inviting members of the TJ Society to form and join affinity groups based on shared subject-matter interests and geographic proximities;
- Building our social media and web presence to offer a virtual home for members of the TJ Society and its friends; and,
- Developing the TJ Society to support and co-sponsor TJ-related events and activities around the world.
The creation of a membership organization devoted to TJ has been a topic of discussion for several years and became more focused at a 2016 TJ workshop held at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. From there, a small group of devoted TJ adherents began establishing the groundwork for this fledgling TJ Society.
These origins also reflect, for now only, the North American concentration of founding trustees. By the end of the summer, through additions to the board of trustees and the creation of the global advisory council, the leadership profile of the TJ Society will be much more reflective of the diversity of the TJ world community.
We hope to build an organization that is “flat” in nature, with a board of trustees committed to the spirit and practice of servant leadership and the fostering of a TJ community that is grounded in participation, exchange, and mutual learning. The TJ Society should not be an end in itself, but rather a conduit and steward for supporting and expanding the reach and influence of TJ, while offering a friendly and engaging “home base” for those who identify with it.
The initial members of the board of trustees are, in alphabetical order (with some additional board-related designations listed):
- Heather Ellis Cucolo, attorney, USA (board director)
- Michael Jones, law professor and judge (ret.), USA
- Shelley Kierstead, law professor, Canada (board vice chairperson)
- Michael Perlin, law professor, USA
- Pauline Spencer, magistrate judge, Australia
- David Wexler, law professor, USA
- Michel Vols, law professor, The Netherlands
- David Yamada, law professor, USA (board chairperson).
In addition, these four distinguished individuals will be serving as Honorary Presidents of the TJ Society, in recognition of their signature, core contributions to this field:
- Peggy Hora, California state court judge (ret.) and international authority on creating solution-based courts
- Michael Perlin, professor emeritus at the New York Law School and leading mental health & disability law expert
- David Wexler, law professor at the University of Puerto Rico & the University of Arizona and co-founder of the TJ movement
- The late Bruce Winick, University of Miami law professor and co-founder of the TJ movement.
For more about therapeutic jurisprudence, click here to visit the Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Mainstream blog.
If you’re interested, here are links to four law review articles I’ve written that have strong TJ-oriented themes:
Human Dignity and American Employment Law — University of Richmond Law Review (2009) — Sets out the theoretical frameworks and arguments for making human dignity the centerpiece of American workplace law, including incorporating TJ principles.
Employment Law as If People Mattered: Bringing Therapeutic Jurisprudence into the Workplace, Florida Coastal Law Review (2010) — Makes the case for applying TJ to the law of the workplace.
Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Practice of Legal Scholarship — University of Memphis Law Review (2010) — Dissects the modern culture of legal scholarship and proposes TJ as a framing perspective for engaging in scholarly work.
Intellectual Activism and the Practice of Public Interest Law — Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice (2016) — Discusses how legal scholarship can shape law reform initiatives, with reflections on my work concerning workplace bullying and unpaid internships and how perspectives like TJ have informed those efforts.