Grounding Inside/Out Professional Identity Formation by Developing Wholehearted Lawyers with Therapeutic Intent


  • Jennifer Whelan Western Sydney University



Professional identity formation of law students ideally encompasses both development of the necessary attributes of lawyers as well as a robust philosophy to inform the character of their engagement with the justice system throughout their career. Susan Brooks’ Wholehearted Lawyering teaching principles and practices provide a sound basis for developing the complex core personal, interpersonal, and relational skills necessary for law students and lawyers to maximise constructive interactions within the legal system. Vulnerability Theory and Therapeutic Jurisprudence too, provide sound principles to guide students’ and lawyers’ purposeful engagement with the legal system, particularly to facilitate greater access to justice through resilience-building and therapeutic contributions and impacts. This article proposes an Inside/Out pedagogy that develops students’ awareness of these necessary personal and interpersonal attributes (the Inside) and that provides a framework for purposive engagement grounded in improving access to justice (the Out). This pedagogy systematically embeds both Brooks’ Wholehearted Lawyering scholarship to develop students’ core professional attributes, and principles drawn from Vulnerability Theory and Therapeutic Jurisprudence to stimulate students to crystallise their own purpose as lawyers. The article then examines the development and application of this pedagogy in an Australian legal clinic established in 2020 at Western Sydney University in New South Wales, Australia.






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