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Suppose Hippocrates Had Been a Lawyer: a Conceptual Model of Harm to Litigants; Part 2


It is well established that environmental factors can have impact upon an injured person’s recovery and return-to-work outcomes. There is substantial evidence supporting the contribution of lawyers and the legal process to poorer outcomes for injured workers. To date, there has been no cohesive model to provide theoretical understanding of the way in which these divergent factors combine to create disability behaviours. The objective of this study was to develop a conceptual model for understanding the development of disability behaviour in a legal context. Interpolation from existing neuroplasticity experimentation and therapeutic practice and observed behaviours and studies of behaviour in the workers’ compensation environment, including existing research concerning predictors for disability. The paper describes a conceptual model for understanding the contributions of lawyers and the legal system to instances of disability that are not necessarily attributable to physical harm. Discussion based upon the conceptual model for a new paradigm of legal practice follows. Factors that contribute to the formation of a neural network supporting the behaviour of learned disability are described. From that description, a shift in the paradigm of legal practice to reduce the unintended impacts upon clients is discussed.

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Statutory and Rules References:

  • Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5 (C.), American Bar Association, 2004.

  • Section 52-1-51 Physical examinations of worker; independent medical examinations; NMSA 1978

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Aurbach, R. Suppose Hippocrates Had Been a Lawyer: a Conceptual Model of Harm to Litigants; Part 2. Psychol. Inj. and Law 6, 228–237 (2013).

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  • Neuroplasticity
  • Injury management
  • Legal system