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University of Miami school of law establishes nation’s First therapeutic jurisprudence center

Coral Gables, FL (September 21, 2009) –The University of Miami School of Law announces the establishment of the Therapeutic Jurisprudence Center. The center will be directed by Professor Bruce J. Winick, who, along with Professor David B. Wexler of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, founded the field of therapeutic jurisprudence in the late 1980s. The inauguration of the Therapeutic Jurisprudence Center will be celebrated on Thursday evening, September 24th at the Lowe Art Museum on campus. Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente will serve as keynote speaker for the invitation-only event. President Donna E. Shalala will give welcoming remarks.

“The center will play a significant role in identifying the practical insights of law and psychology,” said Dean Patricia D. White. “Professor Winick’s work in this arena has been foundational and this center will advance his efforts, taking advantage of the significant interdisciplinary resources of the university.”

The center is interdisciplinary in nature, and has ties to other departments and professors within the University and other universities. It will conduct theoretical and empirical research; publish scholarly books, articles, reports; and perform training for judges and lawyers. It will also conduct community programs, host conferences, symposia, and other educational programs. In addition, the center will participate in existing and future clinical and skills training programs at the Law School, helping to train students in the interpersonal skills needed for effective lawyering and counseling.

“The center brings together an interdisciplinary team to conduct research on the legal system,” said Winick. “We are seeking grants from government and private foundations to study how the courts can use therapeutic jurisprudence to help offenders solve the psychosocial problems that often are responsible for their repeated court involvement. The center already has received a generous grant from the University of Miami Arsht Ethics and Community Research Projects.”

Therapeutic jurisprudence sees the law itself as a therapeutic agent. This innovative field uses the tools of the behavioral sciences to increase the understanding of law and how it can be reshaped to diminish its anti-therapeutic effects and maximize its therapeutic potential. The field has grown enormously and has been recognized as a key scholarly approach in areas across the legal spectrum, including criminal, juvenile, and family law, health and disability law, constitutional law, employment law, and tort law.

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