Shifting the Lens: A Primer for Incorporating Social Work Theory and Practice to Improve Outcomes for Clients with Mental Health Issues and the Law Students who Represent Them
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This Essay is an effort to promote the inclusion of interdisciplinary practice in our work as attorneys and in our roles as clinical legal professors. As the legal community continues its renewed emphasis on skills training, law schools should look to other professions in order to produce more lasting solutions for our clients and for more satisfactory outcomes for our lawyers. In this Essay, the authors discuss their work incorporating social work theory and practice into clinical legal education when dealing with clients who have serious mental illness. With some studies reporting up to 64.2% of inmates in the United States having a diagnosed mental illness, it is becoming imperative that law students acquire the skills necessary to adequately represent them. Two pillars of social work practice, Strengths Theory and Systems Theory, are discussed with an emphasis on the role they play in working with this demographic of clients.