Socialising the law: Combining social work and legal skills in a changing justice sector
This is a ground-breaking cross-disciplinary study looking at the respective skills of lawyers and social workers and how these different skills can usefully be combined in order to deliver a holistic service that meet clients’ needs.
In this project we have interviewed a unique sub-set of practitioners who have qualifications in both law and social work, shedding light on the benefits that combining these skill sets brings to practice. We have also spoken with lawyers and social workers who work in multidisciplinary legal practices – legal practices that employ lawyers and social workers to work collaboratively. Multidisciplinary legal practices are a relatively new approach to service delivery. Understanding more about how they are operating in practice will assist the sector to further develop this promising model.
The Socialising the Law study is generating new insights into how lawyers’ and social workers’ strengths can be used to complement each other, and how to address barriers that can impede lawyers and social workers from working effectively together. The findings from this study will have direct relevance to legal and social work practice.
The study has been conducted in partnership with Professor Penelope Weller, Director of the JD program, Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University; Dr Chris Maylea, Lecturer in Social Work, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University; and Elissa Scott, Director, Neighbourhood Justice Centre.
While this project is on-going, preliminary findings were published in the chapter “Socialising the Law” in the 5th edition of the book Social Work in the Shadow of the Law, edited by Simon Rice, Andrew Day and Linda Briskman and published by The Federation Press in September 2018.