What is trauma-informed law and legal practice?

Welcome to traumainformedlaw.org.  This website was launched with the purpose of bringing together existing resources on trauma and the law.  It was inspired by three observations:  (1) many clients in traumatic conflict situations have informally described the legal process and interactions with legal professionals as traumatic in nature, and it is not the intent of the justice system to retraumatize stakeholders; (2) legal professionals, like other professionals engaged in potentially traumatic situations similar to police and first responders, are exposed to traumatic situations and are at risk of secondary trauma, vicarious trauma or compassion fatigue, however this phenomenon has not yet been studied in depth and few resources exist globally to enable legal professionals to prevent or reduce secondary or vicarious trauma; and (3) in common law legal systems there currently appears to be an inverse relationship between the level of trauma in a conflict situation and the likelihood of a meaningful legal process, both from the perspective of the individual stakeholders involved and the legal system itself, and insufficient analysis of how to improve the legal process for potentially "high trauma" conflict situations such as sexual assault.  

Trauma-informed law is an approach to legal analysis that explicitly and openly acknowledges the potential for trauma to impact law, and vice versa, at any stage of the legal process.

And trauma-informed legal practice is toolbox of techniques that can be used by legal professionals and clients to deal with the presence of trauma in a conflict or legal process, with the intention of handling trauma in a sensitive or informed manner so as to avoid retraumatization, exacerbation of existing trauma or the introduction of systemic trauma due to interaction with the legal system.

We hope this website becomes a valuable collection of centralized resources on the connection between trauma and law, and a catalyst for dialogue about best practices for trauma-informed law and legal practice.