Wexler on Lawyers and Clients with Mental Illness
New on SSRN: David B. Wexler, That's What Friends Are For: Mentors, LAP Lawyers, Therapeutic Jurisprudence, and Clients with Mental Illness. The abstract:
This essay has been prepared for a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Law-Psychology conference on "Justice, Conflict, and Well-Being." It draws on and extends an earlier paper, "Lawyer-Assistance-Program Attorneys and the Practice of Therapeutic Jurisprudence," which dealt primarily with how lawyers themselves in long-term substance abuse recovery possess knowledge, insights, and other strengths that can be profitably used in counseling and representing clients with substance abuse issues. The present paper, inspired largely by some recent stories from the legal academy penned by law professors who have had their own struggles with serious mental illness, extends the proposal to lawyers with mental health struggles and to the counseling and representation of clients with mental health issues. The paper suggests several different practice and pro bono settings (civil commitment cases, mental health court, veterans court, post-traumatice stress disorder issues) and opens a discussion of logistical steps that should be taken to bring this idea to fruition.