Stephen Tang is a legal-psychological researcher who applies psychological theory and methods to understand and reform legal regulation, legal education and the legal profession. His main research interest relate to mental health and the law, behavioural legal ethics, therapeutic jurisprudence, mental health legislation and legal decision-making.
Stephen’s current major research projects include:
- Transition to Professional Practice Project (with Prof Tony Foley and A/Prof Vivien Holmes) – a multi-stage, multi-method project which explores the formation and development of lawyers who are ethical, professional and healthy. Following earlier qualitative and quantitative studies, the current phase of project examines how the ethical culture of a legal practice is formed and how it influences the wellbeing, professional identity and behaviour of lawyers.
- Narratives of Compassion (with Dr Anthony Hopkins, Prof Mark Nolan and Prof Lorana Bartels) – using an experimental design, this project explores whether compassion influences how people think about offenders and whether cultivating compassion can reorient criminal justice law reform towards a more understanding approach.
- Humanising the Complexity of a Judge’s Role (with A/Prof Vivien Holmes and Prof Tony Foley) – an innovative collaborative research and co-design project with judges of an Australian court to appreciate the human complexity of their work in order to design meaningful approaches to enhance both judicial wellbeing and the quality of judicial work.
- Towards the Therapeutic Design of Mental Health Legislation – an empirical therapeutic jurisprudence research project which seeks to map the extent of administrative burden within mental health legislation, examine its effect on decision-making and its (anti-)therapeutic outcomes, and develop principles for the therapeutic and behaviourally-informed design of legislation.
In addition to his legal experience, Stephen holds a PhD (Clinical Psychology). His doctoral research developed a new psychological model of indecision and indecisiveness. Stephen is a registered psychologist with a particular interest in the practice of collaborative and therapeutic psychological assessment.
Stephen is an active participant in the activities of the Wellness Network for Law and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law (ANZAPPL). He has contributed to the work of the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council and has engaged in multiple research consultancies with the Australian legal community.
Stephen also has developed extensive public sector experience in health policy, compliance and regulation. He has worked in the ACT and Commonwealth governments in mental health policy and legislation, and more recently, as an Assistant Director of a leading behavioural insights unit. Stephen has also acted as a consultant to the WHO on mental health policy, law, human rights and service development.
Significant research publications
- Stephen Tang, Tony Foley & Vivien Holmes, ‘Ethical Misconduct by New Australian Lawyers: Prevalence and Prevention’ (in press) International Journal of the Legal Profession.
- Anneka Ferguson & Stephen Tang, ‘The Value of Determination: Moving Beyond the Diagnosis and Making Legal Education Professional and Well’ in C Strevens & R Field (eds), Educating for Well-Being in Law (2019, Routledge).
- Stephen Tang, 'Mental Health Law' in the ACT Law Handbook (AustLII and Legal Aid ACT, 2018).
- Vivien Holmes, Stephen Tang, Tony Foley and Margie Rowe, 'Australian Legal Practice: Ethical Climate and Ethical Climate Change' in Ron Levy et al (eds), New Directions for Law in Australia: Essays in Contemporary Law Reform (ANU Press, 2017) ch 43.
- Vivien Holmes, Tony Foley, Stephen Tang & Margie Rowe, 'Regulating Lawyers' (2017) 91(5) Law Institute Journal 24.
- Stephen Tang, Being Well in the Law: A Guide for Lawyers (Law Society of NSW, 2016) (author/co-author of various chapters, with Tony Foley, Ian Hickie, Vivien Holmes, Colin James and Margie Rowe).
- Stephen Tang, 'Valuing Persons and Communities in Doing Wellness for Law Well' in Rachael Field, James Duffy and Colin James (eds), Promoting Law Student and Lawyer Well-being in Australia and Beyond (Routledge, 2016) ch 1.
- Tony Foley and Stephen Tang, 'On Being, Not Just Thinking Like, a Lawyer: Connections Between Uncertainty, Ignorance and Wellbeing' in Rachael Field, James Duffy and Colin James (eds), Promoting Law Student and Lawyer Well-being in Australia and Beyond (Routledge, 2016) ch 10.
- Vivien Holmes, Tony Foley, Stephen Tang and Margie Rowe, ‘Helping Junior Lawyers Thrive’ (2015) 89(9) Law Institute Journal 44.
- Stephen Tang and Tony Foley, ‘The Practice of Law and the Intolerance of Certainty’ (2014) 37 UNSW Law Journal 1198.
- Stephen Tang and Anneka Ferguson, ‘The Possibility of Wellbeing: Preliminary Results from Surveys of Australian Professional Legal Education Students’ (2014) 14 QUT Law Review 27.
- Molly Townes O’Brien and Stephen Tang, ‘Law School Too Hard? Why the Struggle Could Be a Good One’, The Conversation (23 September 2013).
- Tony Foley, Vivien Holmes, Margie Rowe and Stephen Tang, ‘Teaching Professionalism in Legal Clinic: What New Practitioners Say is Important’ (2012) 17 International Journal of Clinical Legal Education 5.
- Molly Townes O'Brien, Stephen Tang and Kath Hall, ‘No Time to Lose: Negative Impact on Law Student Wellbeing May Begin in Year One’ (2012) 2 International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education 49.
- Vivien Holmes, Tony Foley, Stephen Tang and Margie Rowe, ‘Practising Professionalism: Observations from an Empirical Study of New Australian Lawyers’ (2012) 15 Legal Ethics 29.
- Tony Foley, Vivien Holmes, Margie Rowe and Stephen Tang, ‘A Puppy Lawyer is Not Just for Christmas: Successful Transition to Professional Practice’ (ANU College of Law Research Paper, 2011).
- Molly Townes O’Brien, Stephen Tang and Kath Hall, ‘Changing Our Thinking: Empirical Research on Law Student Wellbeing, Thinking Styles and the Law Curriculum’ (2011) 21 Legal Education Review 149.
- Natalie Drew, Michelle Funk, Stephen Tang, Jagannath Lamichhane, Elena Chávez, Sylvester Katontoka, Soumitra Pathare, Oliver Lewis, Lawrence Gostin and Benedetto Saraceno, ‘Human Rights Violations of People with Mental and Psychosocial Disabilities: An Unresolved Global Crisis’ (2010) 378 The Lancet 1664.
- Kath Hall, Molly Townes O’Brien and Stephen Tang, ‘Developing a Professional Identity in Law School: A View from Australia’ (2010) 4 Phoenix Law Review 19.
In the Media
- Justice Stephen Gageler AC, High Court of Australia
This conference brings together members of the judiciary, academics, policy makers and experts in fields such as psychology, to consider current issues and challenges in the Australian justice system.
Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.