Collaborative and Alternative Justice

Professor Paula Kaldis
Phone: 978.681.0800 X117

Class syllabus

This course will teach the theory, practice, and skills of law as a helping or healing profession. Students will study developments in the legal profession that are alternatives or different ways of engaging in the adversarial process. We will discuss and engage in simulations involving new developments in the law such as collaborative divorce law, restorative justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, holistic law, drug treatment courts and the problem-solving court movement. Most of these development are interdisciplinary, non adversarial, nontraditional, collaborative and beneficial to clients, lawyers and others.

Some of the disciplines studied in this course:

Holistic law honors and respects the dignity and integrity of each individual, promotes peaceful advocacy and holistic legal principles, values connection, encourages compassion, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing, practices deep listening, draws upon ancient intuitive wisdom of diverse cultures and traditions and encourages the lawyer to enjoy the practice of law. It is explicitly interdisciplinary, and seeks to find solutions to legal matters in a broader, more holistic approach than is traditionally associated with lawyers, like holistic medicine.

Restorative justice is a process done by the community, victim, and offender in a collaborative process with all players present, focusing on the relationships between the offender, victim, and community. It is the antithesis of a top-down, hierarchical system where the judge (up) imposes a sentence on the defendant (down). Balance is sought between the needs of the victim, the community, and the offender that enhances community protection, competency development in the offender, and direct accountability of the offender to the victim and victimized community.

Collaborative law is a non-litigative process employed mainly in divorce law, where the spouses and their respective attorneys resolve the issues outside of court in a series of conferences. No litigation is instituted until settlement is reached and lawyers cannot represent their clients in court should the agreement process break down.

Cooperative law is like collaborative practice, where there is an agreement for a peaceful settlement, however there is no requirement for the lawyers to withdraw if settlement can’t be reached.

Therapeutic jurisprudence looks at tge consequences of the law and legal procedures on the individuals involved, including the clients, their families, friends, lawyers, judges, and community. It attempts to reform law and legal processes in order to promote the psychological well being of the people they affect. It is a perspective that regards the law (rules of law, legal procedures, and roles of legal actors) itself as a social force that often produces therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences. It has been applied to almost every area of law, including mental health law, family law, employment law, health law, elder law, appellate practice, criminal law and estate planning.

Preventive law, like preventive medicine, seeks to intervene in legal matters before disputes arise and advocates proactive intervention to head off litigation and other conflicts.

Creative problem solving is a broad approach to lawyering that is humanistic, interdisciplinary, creative, and preventive. Lawyers are thus asked to approach problems using nontraditional problem solving processes, drawn from business, psychology, economics, neuroscience and sociology.

Problem solving courts refers to the rise of specialized, interdisciplinary, therapeutic-jurisprudence courts such as drug treatment courts, mental health courts, unified family courts, domestic violence courts, and the 2000 joint resolution of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators explicitly encouraging the development of “problem solving courts.”

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