Managing High Conflict Personalities in Legal Disputes - PDL1041

Managing High Conflict Personalities in Legal Disputes

Professional development short course

This unit focuses on managing personalities in conflict resolution, particularly resolving disputes involving "high-conflict" personalities. The course will help students and practising professionals recognisze personality styles, choose appropriate intervention techniques, and maintain ethical principles while dealing with difficult people professionally and personally.

The first part will focus on developing and understanding the dynamics of personality in conflict, especially the impact of "high-conflict" personalities in legal and workplace disputes.

The second part addresses how to manage individual clients, two or more parties in disputes, and systems involving many high-conflict parties. Methods will be taught and practiced in role-play exercises, including client counselling, coaching potentially high-conflict employees, coaching potentially high-conflict parties in separation and divorce, mediating high-conflict legal disputes, mediating workplace conflicts (when appropriate), managing high-conflict complainants with government agencies, and system-wide interventions to reduce high-conflict behaviour in organisations.

At a glance


Date: 20, 21, 22, 23, 27 &, 28 September


9.00am - 1.00pm




Domestic students: $3,262.50

Learning outcomes:

On successful completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge and understanding of high-conflict personality disorders and their common conflict dynamics, the preoccupation for those with high conflict personalities with blaming, as well as brain research theory and methods for creative handling of high-conflict personalities in legal and workplace disputes and applying these initiatives to new situations in professional practice.
  2. Investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to the management of collaborative relationships among professionals in high-conflict cases.
  3. Conduct research into high conflict dispute resolution based on knowledge of appropriate research principles and methods.
  4. Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level, complex ideas relevant to high conflict dispute resolution.
  5. Use and understand methods for coaching individual clients to deal with high conflict situations.
  6. Analyse high conflict behaviour in court and other types of hearings and processes.

Academic lead:

Karen Adam

Karen Adam retired from the bench in November 2015 after 34 years of service as a Tucson city court magistrate, a superior court commissioner, and a superior court judge. As presiding judge of the Pima County Juvenile Court from 2011-2014, Judge Adam led the effort to convert PCJCC to a trauma-responsive court. She facilitated a trauma audit of the court and implemented training on trauma and vicarious trauma for all court employees and system partners.

Judge Adam is a member of the Self-Represented Litigants Network, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), and the Arizona and national chapters of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. She is a board member and past president of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy and teaches and consults on Family Treatment Drug Court grants and programs. Judge Adam, along with Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. and Annette Burns, JD, developed Conversations on Domestic Violence in Family Law with 16 Experts.

Judge Adam writes and lectures on juvenile and family law topics and has served as faculty for the National Judicial College since 2007 and as a professor at the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law since 2018.