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Lawyering and Ethics? Author Says It’s Possible

Therapeutic jurisprudence. What’s that all about? Chicken soup for the bar?

David Wexler, author of “Judging in a Therapeutic Key: Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Courts” and a pioneer in the discipline, will be sharing his thoughts at 4:30 p.m. on April 7 in a free presentation at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s library building.

Wexler explained that therapeutic jurisprudence is “how you can do judging and lawyering with an ethic of care.”

“There was a lot of judicial interest in it in drug treatment, domestic violence and in the mental health courts, but now it’s finding its way into general practice,” he said.

It’s also now being used in criminal litigation and sentencing, said Wexler, the John D. Lyons professor of law and professor of psychology at the University of Arizona.

“If a judge is going to issue probation, it’s probably better for the judge to see that as a behavioral contract between the offender and the judge, rather than a fiat. The judge could say, ‘I’m seriously considering you for probation, if you would be willing to convince me that you will do certain things that will allow me to sleep better at night and protect the public safety.’

“The offender should have some role in this, rather than be a passive pawn, with all the lawyers doing the work, and him leaving court without knowing what the heck happened,” said Wexler, who also is a professor of law and director of the International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. “It takes some real efforts by the courts and judges to make sure a person is truly participating. The offender should not be left to come up with his or her own plan, but the lawyer can work with the offender. ‘Why didn’t it work last time? Why did you get into trouble? How can you convince the court you will avoid problems next time?’ ”

The time for therapeutic jurisprudence seems to have come, said Wexler, in “a general movement in the law to be more humane, more interested in interpersonal relationships, the ethics of care.”

“We think that legal education has been centered too much on adversarial justice,” he added, “and the ethics of care, viewing lawyering as a helping profession, is very much needed. This is a big step in that direction. There is a real place for it.

“It’s not a panacea,” admitted Wexler, a former chairman of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Mental Disability and the Law. “But it is promising, and it takes constant monitoring and revising to keep it going. It’s a slow process, but a dynamic process.”

Professor Ellen Waldman, director of the law school’s alternative dispute resolution program, considers it “a pretty revolutionary way of thinking, given that we lawyers usually don’t care whether anyone is happier or sadder after we get involved.”

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Merger Approved:

Partners at the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop LLP, with offices in San Diego, and Shaw Pittman LLP, based in Washington, D.C., voted to approve a merger announced in mid-February. Once they clear up a few loose ends, the new firm , Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP , will be among the nation’s top 20 law firms, with 900 attorneys in 16 international offices, including 51 in San Diego, and annual billings of around $600 million.

The combined firm will concentrate on corporate finance and capital markets, global sourcing, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, energy, tax, banking, communications, aviation and government regulation.

“Our national presence becomes greater, our capabilities in cross-border technology go deeper, and our range of industry experience instantly expands,” said Mary B. Cranston, the chairwoman of Pillsbury Winthrop, who will retain her title.

Shaw Pittman’s managing partner, Stephen B. Huttler, and David R. Snyder, of San Diego, will become vice chairmen of the new firm; and Marina Park, who is in Silicon Valley, will be the managing partner.

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Big Fish:

Brian C. Fish, partner and member of the real estate practice group of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP, has been recognized by Real Estate Southern California magazine as one of the region’s “40 under 40” rising commercial real estate stars of 2005.

During the past year, Fish worked on hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate deals, was lead counsel on several big cases, and was named partner at the firm, according to a company spokeswoman.

Fish focuses his practice on land use, redevelopment, environmental and real estate matters, and assists public and private clients with compliance, planning and zoning issues and condo conversions.

A 1996 graduate of Emory University School of Law, Fish earned his undergraduate degree in urban studies and planning from UC San Diego.

He is a board member of the San Diego Fair Housing Council, a member of the Urban Land Institute, and is active with the Building Industry Association and the San Diego Voluntary Lawyer’s Program.

Real Estate Southern California’s 40 under 40 recognizes the region’s 40 most successful and youngest players in the real estate industry.

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Jolly Good Fellow:

Alec L. Cory, who founded the San Diego law firm Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP in 1946, has been installed by the San Diego County Bar Foundation as its inaugural fellow.

The installation was celebrated at Cory’s 90th birthday party March 10 in the restored San Diego Trust & Savings building, where he founded the firm almost six decades ago.

Cory, who earned his law degree from Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley in 1939, also served as a member of the senior advisory board for the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and on the board of trustees for the California State Colleges.

The foundation’s fellows program was established to recognize San Diego lawyers who have demonstrated outstanding legal ability and contributions to the community.

Contact Pat Broderick at pbroderick@sdbj.com or call her at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 3112.


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