Dissolving the stiff upper lip: Opportunities and challenges for the mainstreaming of therapeutic jurisprudence in the United Kingdom

Jones, Emma and Kawalek, Anna (2019). Dissolving the stiff upper lip: Opportunities and challenges for the mainstreaming of therapeutic jurisprudence in the United Kingdom. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 63 pp. 76–84.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlp.2018.06.007

Abstract

Although therapeutic jurisprudence (“TJ”) is increasingly well-established internationally, particularly within the United States of America (“US”), to date it remains relatively unacknowledged within the United Kingdom (“UK”). This article will explore the opportunities presented within contemporary UK society for the greater promotion, and eventual mainstreaming, of TJ. It will also consider the challenges faced during this process and how best to overcome these. Its first key area of focus will be upon the potential role of legal education in the UK in educating law students (and academics) about TJ, considering which approaches are likely to be most effective in incorporating TJ perspectives, at what stage this should occur and to what extent TJ is likely to impact on the existing curricula at a time when proposed changes relating to entry into the legal profession are heavily influencing the work of Law Schools. The article will then move on to consider the receptiveness of the UK legal profession to the TJ paradigm in light of recent attempts to move to a competency-based approach to practice and to reconceptualise professionalism to meet the challenges of increasing fragmentation and corporatisation. The third key area it will explore is the UK's recent plans to reintroduce problem-solving courts (“PSCs”) into its criminal justice system. The authors will discuss the downfall of the six UK Drug Court (“DC”) pilots originally established in 2005 theorising upon their failures and reflecting upon whether the current UK criminal justice system is truly able to support a fresh round of PSC initiatives. The article will end with recommendations for ways in which the international TJ community should begin the process of mainstreaming TJ within the UK. It will conclude that there are currently significant opportunities to be utilised, but that this requires significant commitment and mobilisation amongst existing TJ scholars and practitioners.

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