LAW5421 - Managing high conflict personalities in legal disputes - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Chief examiner(s)

Mr Bill Eddy Personal ProfilePersonal Profile (

Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.

Unit guides


City (Melbourne)

  • Term 4 2019 (On-campus)


This unit focuses on managing personalities in conflict resolution, particularly resolving disputes involving "high-conflict" personalities. The course will help students and practicing professionals recognize 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 an 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.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • 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.
  • Investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to the management of collaborative relationships among professionals in high-conflict cases.
  • Conduct research into high conflict dispute resolution based on knowledge of appropriate research principles and methods.
  • Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level, complex ideas relevant to high conflict dispute resolution.
  • Use and understand methods for coaching individual clients to deal with high conflict situations.
  • Analyse high conflict behaviour in court and other types of hearings and processes.


One reflective journal that incorporates research, set tasks and daily reflection,

(3,750 words): 50%

One research assignment (3,750 words): 50%

Workload requirements

Students enrolled in this unit will be provided with 24 contact hours of seminars per semester whether intensive, semi-intensive, or semester-long offering. Students will be expected to complete a reading set for class, and to undertake additional research and reading applicable to a 6 credit point unit.