A broad approach to client lives is the way to resolve legal issues

A broad approach to client lives is the way to resolve legal issues

Monday, 6 June 2016

Elissa Scott Summary Crime Program Manager
Elissa Scott Summary Crime Program Manager

A multi-disciplined approach to clients’ needs is the best way to resolve their legal issues according to Summary Crime Program Manager, Elissa Scott.

Ms Scott started her career as a social worker and enrolled in a law degree after graduating from social work. She combined working full-time as a social worker, mainly within the area of children and adolescent mental health.  

‘Legal problems don’t surface on their own, they are usually in combination with a number of different things. It’s about looking at problems in a holistic way,’ Elissa says.

A multidisciplinary approach to legal issues is when a number of different professionals – such as lawyers, financial consultants, drug and alcohol counsellors and psychologists all work together to assist their client resolve issues.

Her background in social work has provided Elissa with a unique insight into how to manage the problems facing clients.

‘I work with people who face very complex issues, day in and day out, and are in crisis.

‘It can be a negative environment but, as trite as this may sound, it’s about holding on to the stories of hope. I know from experience that by taking a holistic approach, I can help clients face and address their issues.’

Elissa believes lawyers can learn a lot from social workers.

‘In social work, there is a lot of study on communication, mediation and how to get people to understand what’s going on. As lawyers, we can sometimes overlook that as we focus on the legal problem only.

Her career has given her a first-hand view of how holistic lawyering benefits clients.

‘I would call myself a people lawyer. I have seen for myself that focussing on all of the issues that impact clients provides a more effective way of addressing their legal problems.’

Summary Crime Program Manager Elissa Scott

Elissa’s approach to her clients is something gaining momentum across the legal profession. RMIT is poised to open a new multi-disciplined legal centre and interviewed Elissa to get her thoughts on the approach.

Elissa also recommends using some of the techniques social workers do in order to better manage stressful workloads.

‘Sometimes lawyers, especially when starting out, can get drawn into thinking they’ve got to help solve everyone’s problems. But the reality is we can’t and it’s good to use some social work techniques, like debriefing, to really help with longevity in this space. ‘

Watch a video interview with Elissa Scott

Watch a video of Summary Crime Program Manager Elissa Scott speaking with Rob Hulls, Director of RMIT's Centre for Innovative Justice. 

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