Practical Tips for Trauma-Informed Legal Practice

Lessons from work with victim-survivors of institutional abuse

A CPD accredited training package for lawyers and legal paraprofessionals building trauma-informed practices in Australia.

A CPD accredited training package for lawyers and legal paraprofessionals building trauma-informed practices in Australia.

Co-designed by victim-survivors, mental health practitioners and personal injury law specialists, this half-day course introduces you to key concepts necessary to:

  • understand the experiences and needs of trauma victim-survivors;
  • recognise, understand the underlying causes for, and mitigate typical challenges arising when trauma victim-survivors interact with legal systems;
  • understand and apply the principles of trauma-informed practice in a legal context;
  • using specific guidelines, concrete actions and processes to reduce the risk of conflicts between lawyer and client and improve the chances of a satisfying and meaningful litigation experience.

Backed by IGFF’s 25 years of experience supporting victim-survivors who experienced sexual assault in organisational contexts, and is delivered by IGFF staff with a social work and legal practice background.  These sessions offer participants a unique opportunity to develop understandings of trauma behaviours and implement strategies to minimise these challenges.

Why undertake this course?

Interfacing with legal systems can be stressful and challenging for all clients, but especially for those who have experienced trauma. The impacts of trauma experience may be subtle or obvious, but will almost always affect the legal experience for both clients and practitioners.

When working with this client group, our approach as professionals can make an enormous difference. By using communication and case management strategies based on the principles of Trauma Informed Practice, lawyers and legal paraprofessionals can create a safer, more respectful relationship with clients. This doesn’t just foster improved client wellbeing, but also leads to smoother, safer processes and better outcomes for both clients and legal staff.

IGFF’s Trauma-Informed Legal Education (TILE) program is designed especially for lawyers and legal paraprofessionals, to address the unique practice challenges arising in the legal world when working with victim-survivors. IGFF’s program has been developed by subject matter experts and informed by research, practice knowledge, and lived experience input from lawyers, casework professionals and people who have experienced institutional abuse trauma.

Who should undertake this course?

Participants are welcome to book as individuals or as a group of practitioners. Please note that group discounts and community legal centre discounts are available – reach out to us at igff@igff.org.au or call 1300 12 44 33  to discuss.

We consider the most effective trauma informed practice is undertaken via a whole-of-firm approach – anyone involved in documentation, client communication and formation of policy and procedure plays a crucial role in creating a trauma-informed legal practice. We encourage firms and legal centres booking in for training to consider inviting a range of staff to participate.

This training draws particular lessons from the experiences of primary or secondary victim-survivors and whistleblowers pursuing civil litigation claims under abuse law, and will be especially useful to plaintiff lawyers working in abuse law civil litigation. However the principles and skills taught are applicable to a wide range of practice areas. We also welcome attendees including:

  • Current or aspiring legal professionals, including solicitors, barristers, and paralegal and administrative staff;
  • Practitioners acting on behalf of victim-survivors in broader areas of litigation connected with not only abuse law but adjacent areas of law, such as medical negligence or workplace injury, where clients have experienced institutional betrayal
  • Practitioners working in criminal law prosecution, whether connected with institutional abuse or with sexual assault cases more broadly
  • Practitioners working or volunteering in community legal centres

What you’ll learn

Attending this program will give you access to:

  • a live training session of approximately 4 hours’ duration (the length is currently being finalised through the editing process), supported by accompanying slides, delivered by a subject matter expert; and
  • an accompanying participant booklet with practice resources and checklists, which participants can keep and use following completion of the training.

Participants in the TILE program will learn about:

  • Key concepts needed to understand the internal experiences of trauma victim-survivors, particularly victim-survivors of trauma caused by institutions;
  • Typical challenges which can arise when trauma victim-survivors interact with lawyers and legal systems, with explanations of the causes of these challenges
  • Introduction to key principles underlying general trauma-informed practice
  • Most crucially, and comprising the majority of content: specific guidelines and tips for lawyers working with victim-survivors, with a focus on concrete actions and processes which can be implemented throughout engagement between client and lawyer/law firm to reduce risks of conflict, dissatisfaction and re-traumatisation and improve the likelihood of a satisfying and meaningful litigation experience for clients

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The TILE program provides learning that we consider satisfies CPD requirements for legal practitioners across most Australian states and territories, as we consider it is:

  • of significant intellectual or practical content
  • focused on matters relating to the practice of law
  • conducted by persons who are qualified in the subject covered
  • designed to extend your knowledge and skills in areas that are relevant to your practice needs or professional development

Based on the content, length of the training, and expertise of the team developing and delivering the training, we consider this session:

  • satisfies the compulsory CPD field “professional skills”, covering a broad range of effective communication skills, and particularly skills to enhance interviewing, giving advice, checking client understanding, and clarifying your role in the course of mediation
  • should attract 4 CPD units/points.

In many Australian jurisdictions, CPD activities are not accredited. IGFF will provide a certificate of completion to all attendees of this training, which can be used for your CPD record keeping and to demonstrate attendance to your local professional governing body. If you have any queries about how this training may accord with CPD requirements in your jurisdiction, please reach out to igff@igff.org.au for further information.

Lead Designer

our co-design team

Next workshop

Registration will take you to an external site.

Training Information
Cost $500pp* (plus GST)
Duration 4 hours
Next Session Early 2024
Delivery Online

Discount pricing is available to group and community legal centres.  Please get in touch with igff@igff.org.au to speak with us about it.