(Not) "Court"-ing Disaster

Practical Guidance for Other Professionals in Navigating the Legal System

By the very nature of their jobs, mental health professionals and other healthcare personnel* are frequently working with people in difficult, stressful situations. The combination of a client’s vulnerability (and/or emotional volatility), the often sensitive nature of the subject matter being discussed, and the possibility that the underlying situation is or may be the subject of legal proceedings can prove to be a risky and challenging one for a compassionate, engaged caregiver. And for many heath care professionals, the mere thought of having to deal with lawyers—whether they are asserting malpractice claims or just seeking testimony for a mutual client’s benefit—may induce feelings of confusion, fear, or even revulsion.

This interactive workshop provides clinicians with practical guidance for interacting with lawyers when preparing for or providing testimony in depositions or other court proceedings. The program will go beyond a mere overview of the legal system to give an inside look at how lawyers think and what they are trying to accomplish when interacting with mental health professionals as potential fact or expert witnesses. Topics discussed will include responding to subpoenas for client records, providing deposition testimony or affidavits, and testifying in court. The goal is for participants to leave the program a bit more at ease with the system and (can this be true?) more comfortable dealing with lawyers.

*This program can also be adapted to fit the needs of accountants, engineers, architects, and other professionals who frequently serve as expert or fact witnesses in trial proceedings.