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Ian Freckelton, John
June 4, 2015

Therapeutic jurisprudence has been described as a
mechanism, vector, prism, lens, and heuristic for viewing the
content of law and legal process, and as having the potential for
reform of the law. It has been highly influential and, if anything,
its influence is gathering momentum. However, in the two
decades of success since it was coined as a concept in 1987,1 a
number of less welcome challenges and consequences have
followed. These include detractors, trendiness, populism, cult
status, and a degree of indiscriminate and inaccurate invocation
of ‘‘TJ’’ as a rationalization, justification, and even a badge of
This Article scrutinizes a range of the critiques of
therapeutic jurisprudence and reflects upon the risks of it being
misused in the name of legislative and court reforms.
Unfortunately, some proponents that wish reforms to appear
avant-garde, sensitive, and community-responsive do not fulfill
the basic tenets of lawyering. But it is these basic tenets of lawyering that will promote autonomy and choice, minimize
adverse outcomes to health, and maximize pro-therapeutic
consequences. This Article argues that in the maturation phase
of therapeutic jurisprudence those who identify its advantages
have an intellectual responsibility to be clear about the
parameters and limits of therapeutic jurisprudence. This will
reduce its invocation in ways that will bring it into disrepute and
result in outcomes inconsistent with its values. In addition, with
its successes comes an obligation to explore what is claimed to
be its implementation in practice and to evaluate rigorously
whether such implementation is achieving the desired objectives.


AbstractAcademicConceptual IssuesPolicePrisonsRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ TheoryStatutes and LegislationTeachers and Students
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