Professor Warren Brookbanks, who joined AUT Law School as a Professor of Criminal Law and Justice Studies in April, says compassion and versatility are ‘must haves’ for new lawyers who want to keep up with a changing legal landscape.
Applying the law in a compassionate way allows for better, lasting outcomes for humans, and versatility is essential to keep up with ‘seismic’ changes in the law, says Prof Brookbanks.
Prof Brookbanks is well known in New Zealand and beyond for his research and teaching in the fields of criminal law, mental health law and therapeutic jurisprudence and has authored and edited numerous legal textbooks.
“In many domains of law there is a growing realisation that a traditional adversarial approach produces its own negative effects. Many offenders are themselves victims of crime and abuse. So I’m in favour of the problem solving courts that are emerging - like drug and alcohol courts - which can address dysfunctional elements in the lives of offenders and help reduce reoffending,” says Prof Brookbanks.
At AUT Law School he will bring take his interest in problem-solving law a step further, establishing a new research centre – the AUT Centre for Non-Adversarial Justice.
“There’s a lot of grassroots support for established approaches like mediation and alternative dispute resolution and for newer models like collaborative law and restorative justice. Through the new research centre I hope to connect with those communities of interest so that together we can create strategies that lead to better outcomes.
As well as establishing the new research centre and doing his bit to grow research activity in the Law School, Prof Brookbanks will continue to teach in his areas of interest – criminal law and mental health law.
As a law academic his teaching is driven by the fact that the law in many areas is becoming increasingly complex and broad.
“Within particular areas like criminal law and mental health there are a much broader range of issues that need to be understood than we experienced in the past. Criminal law has become a lot more complex and challenging in recent years, and mental health law is increasingly important, due to the high incidence of mental illness in our community.
“Law graduates need not only compassion and versatility but also a good imagination and the motivation to bring about change in the law that is humane and not destructive.”