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Empathy: an essential element of legal practice or ‘never the twain shall meet’?

Westaby, Chalen and Jones, Emma (2017). Empathy: an essential element of legal practice or ‘never the twain shall meet’? International Journal of the Legal Profession (Early Access).

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In a climate where the work of the legal profession is changing and evolving rapidly, this article considers the potential for empathy to be incorporated as an essential element of legal practice. This challenges the conceptions of legal practice held by many legal professionals and law students but draws on increasing scientific evidence demonstrating the interaction between cognition and affect and reflects the emotional realities of life in practice. This article will consider the different definitions of empathy and argue that it is necessary for it to be conceptualised in a way which draws upon both cognitive and affective elements. When empathy is interpreted in this way it can provide both a more effective form of practice and a deeper appreciation of ethics and values. This article will argue that to incorporate empathy in this way requires a richer, more nuanced consideration of the benefits and challenges involved in its use. However, embedding it throughout legal education, training and legal practice would more than reward such a careful evaluation of its role.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN: 1469-9257
Keywords: Legal practice; legal education; empathy; affective domain
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Law
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Research Group: Health and Wellbeing PRA (Priority Research Area)
Item ID: 50510
Depositing User: Emma Jones
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2017 08:32
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2017 09:30
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