When the Lawyer Becomes Traumatized: A Scoping Review [2020]

Lawyers can be exposed to cases involving traumatic elements of crimes. Such exposure may result in symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have adverse effects on the lawyers’ capacities to work. A scoping review was conducted to summarize original investigations of work-related PTSD among lawyers in terms of (a) trauma exposure conceptualization and operationalization, (b) symptom severity, (c) prevalence, and (d) risk factors. The scoping review also aimed to highlight potential directions for future studies and clinical implications. Literature searches were conducted in PsycINFO, Embase, Pubmed, MEDLINE, PILOTS, and Google Scholar. Of 341 initial publications, 9 were included. A majority conceptualized the impact of work-related trauma exposure as secondary traumatic stress and operationalized work-related trauma exposure as the number of cases or clients involving traumatic material. Levels of PTSD symptoms reported by lawyers were positively related to levels of work-related trauma exposure.

Marie-Jeanne Léonard, Daniel Saumier, Alain Brunet
SAGE Open, September 11, 2020