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Course Descriptions
USC Gould School of Law

Trauma-Informed Lawyering     LAW-638

This course will provide an introduction of trauma and trauma-informed practice within the legal field. Attorneys who practice family law, criminal law, public interest law, personal injury, employment, bankruptcy, trust and estates, civil rights all work with trauma survivors. Many others may deal indirectly with traumatic events and issues such as environmental, healthcare, and appellate lawyers. This is the majority of lawyers in the legal profession. Yet very few are trained on the skills necessary to effectively and healthily work with survivors of trauma, for both the attorney and client mental health.  

Over the three-day course, students will learn about mental health, trauma, trauma-informed practices, and vicarious trauma and will consider how mental health struggles and experiences of trauma impact a person’s behaviors and attorney-client relationships. Students will be encouraged to utilize a trauma-informed lens and approach to help decrease re-traumatization of clients, set appropriate boundaries, and build healthier and more productive working relationships. Students will be provided information on how to create a trauma-informed case strategy and tips for managing clients’ trauma in court. 

Students will also be engaged in discussions of how trauma functions within the legal system and how activist movements have responded to injustices within the justice system and through use of the justice system. Lastly, students will be assisted in building a “Transforming Vicarious Trauma” plan to help decrease experiences of burnout and secondary traumatic stress. 

Units 1
Grading Options CR/D/F Only
Exam Type Paper
Writing Requirement No
Skills/Experiential Requirement No

Grading Options: vary with the professor

Professors Teaching This Course