What is Trauma-Informed Lawyering?
Trauma-informed lawyering is an approach that puts clients first by putting their realities of trauma experiences at the forefront of engaging with the client.
For many clients, they are seeking legal assistance at a time when they are experiencing a highly vulnerable and emotional situation. This approach also encompasses using modes of self-care and safety-planning to counterbalance the effect that engaging in the legal system may have on the client.
Why Does Trauma-Informed Lawyering Matter?
Entering the legal system is daunting as it is. Entering the legal system when you are experiencing a vulnerable and emotional situation is most likely one of the worst moments of your life. Attorneys are traditionally taught to separate emotions from the law.
Finding a trauma-informed lawyer to guide you will provide you with more effective representation.
There are four key characteristics of trauma-informed lawyering:
The first characteristic is to identify the trauma.
A traumatic event is one that is defined as rendering a person’s internal and external resources inadequate so that they are unable to effectively cope. The attorney must understand that trauma can take many different forms.
How clients experience trauma has a direct relationship to how they relate to their attorneys and courts. How clients experience trauma also correlates to how clients relate their experiences to their attorneys.
The second characteristic is adjusting the attorney-client relationship.
In working with a client with trauma, getting the whole story may prove difficult. Some clients may be fearful to tell someone their whole story, while others may tell the attorney so many facts so quickly that the attorney has a hard time keeping up. Once the attorney has identified the source of the trauma, they are able to adjust the attorney-client relationship to better understand the client.
Because trauma manifests itself differently in different people, the attorney should be prepared with a variety of approaches to guide the client in the representation.
The third characteristic is adapting the litigation strategy.
Once the attorney has identified the trauma and adjusted the attorney-client relationship, the attorney can begin to adapt the litigation strategy.
While some clients may want to tell their whole story to the court to seek justice, testifying for others may prove deadly in a contested domestic violence case. The attorney can help guide the client through litigation when they are able to understand the client’s trauma and make informed decisions. Using a trauma-informed approach leads to better representation.
The fourth characteristic is preventing vicarious trauma.
Vicarious trauma occurs when an attorney vicariously adopts some of the trauma from the client. Attorneys should diversify their case load and ensure that they have a supportive work environment when working with high trauma cases.
Attorneys should also ensure that they are engaging in forms of self-care to prevent vicarious trauma.
Does Minella Law Group Offer Trauma-Informed Lawyering?
Our Associate Attorney, Hannah Hughes, joins us with a background in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Training. Hannah has completed an Advocacy Counselor Training which is a 52-hour trauma-informed training course to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault heal themselves.
Hannah then went on to teach this training to different community members. Hannah now incorporates this trauma-informed training into her lawyering.
Our family law attorneys treat each case with compassion, empathy, and understanding. We strive to make sure each client need is met while providing you with effective representation. With our combined years of experience representing clients and understanding their situations, we know we can offer an approach for you. Contact us for more info.
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