Lawyers’ Self-perception and Therapeutic Advocacy

Karni Perlman, Yael Ben-Saadon

Abstract


The article discusses various aspects of therapeutic advocacy. It presents a significant change in lawyers’ self- role- perception when representing clients in two discrete forums: One, Community Courts and the other -the Appeal Committees for Security Forces’ Disability Claims.

These forums differ from each other in several essential aspects; for example, the first handles criminal cases while the other handles civil claims. Yet, both are institutions that, ultimately, seek the same substantive goal of rehabilitation.

The article describes research that was conducted in Israel and presents themes that emerged from interviews with lawyers operating in these forums. It analyses similarities and differences between the two arenas. It describes professional dilemmas faced by the lawyers and indicates their level of satisfaction with the manner in which proceedings are usually conducted.

The lawyers’ attitudes and descriptions of their professional conduct reinforce and provide additional content to the perception of lawyers as therapeutic agents with the power and responsibility to promote humane and unifying law. The lawyers’ therapeutic approach is reflected in a variety of ways, including in the development of the lawyer-client relationship, the lawyers' perception of the system and their role within it, and the lawyers' sense of their professional identity and degree of professional satisfaction.

Thus, even though the findings of the study have elucidated the existence of a therapeutic perception among lawyers advocating in particular forums in a specific legal system, they provide insights that may serve as a basis for learning and discussing broader issues that may be applied to other forums more generally.

 


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