Therapeutic jurisprudence workshop at the University of Puerto Rico

During the past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in a workshop on therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ), featuring nine presentations on various aspects of law and psychology, held at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) School of Law in San Juan. UPR happens to be the home institution of Prof. David Wexler, a co-founder of TJ, which is a multidisciplinary school of theory and practice that examines the therapeutic and anti-therapeutic properties of law, legal processes, and legal institutions. 

Here are the presenters and our topics:

  • Attorney/Mediator Stella Maris Isabel Margetic (Buenos Aires, Argentina), “What Can We Learn from U.S. Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts to Inform Argentine Juvenile Criminal Justice?”
  • Judge Ginger Lerner Wren (Broward County Mental Health Court, Fort Lauderdale, Florida), “The Intersection of TJ and Trauma-Informed Courts”
  • Dr. Carrie Petrucci (Evaluation Researcher & Adjunct Faculty, Alliant International University, Irvine, California) (with Dr. Anna Kawalek, Leeds Law School, UK), “If We Measure It, They Will Come, Part Two: How to Measure ‘What-Works-Best-for-Whom-Under-What-Circumstances-and-Why’ in Therapeutic Jurisprudence Settings”
  • Prof. David Yamada (Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts), “Because Stories Matter: Overcoming Trauma Responses from Legal Clients and Witnesses”
  • Prof. David Wexler (UPR School of Law, San Juan, Puerto Rico), “Anti-Therapeutic Practices of Law Reviews and Journals”
  • J.D. Candidate Bárbara Becerra Marcano (UPR School of Law, San Juan, Puerto Rico), “Trial by Media: From a Therapeutic Jurisprudence Perspective”
  • Prof. Shelley Kierstead (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Canada), “Reducing Toxicity for Mental Health Professionals’ Participation in Parenting Matters”
  • Attorney Sofia Lizzio (Athens, Greece), “Risk and Racial Bias: Workshop on Improving Minority and Low-Income Homeownership Experiences. A TJ Approach”
  • Attorney Shannon Sweeney (Palmer, Puerto Rico), “Integration of Ecological Principles and Legal Writing: A Creative Approach to Holistic Problem Solving and Intentional Advocacy”

We also benefited from the very helpful assistance of UPR law students Katherine Alay and Veronica Rivera, who are serving as Prof. Wexler’s research assistants.

Before the pandemic, we held these small workshops periodically in North America and Puerto Rico, and they provided wonderful opportunities to share and discuss our work and to create and rekindle connections with members of the TJ community. This was our return to in-person programs, and it was a welcomed one. I’ve quipped that Prof. Shelley Kierstead and I, as co-organizers of this workshop, basically bullied David Wexler into allowing us to descend upon San Juan and his school!

Fortunately for all, it was an enormously stimulating and thought-provoking program, featuring participants from many different places. And, of course, we were able to steal some down time to enjoy a couple of meals together and to soak in the warm weather of San Juan.

l to r: Stella Maris Isabel Margetic, Carrie Petrucci, Shannon Sweeney, David Wexler, David Yamada, Shelley Kierstead, Sofia Lizzio, Bárbara Becerra, Veronica Rivera; not pictured: Ginger Lerner Wren, Katherine Alay

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