APA-ABA Collaboration

APA's Office of General Counsel promotes the interface between psychology and the law through interdisciplinary collaboration with other professional groups such as the American Bar Association, and oversight of related task forces and conferences that foster work in areas of mutual concern to the two professions.

The APA-ABA Connection

APA's Committee on Legal Issues (COLI) began pursuing a relationship with ABA and was instrumental in the development of an APA/ABA task force in 1995. Over the years, the task force has:

  • Served as a project facilitator.

  • Performed a brainstorming function.

  • Implemented and coordinated an APA/ABA networking mechanism.

Since 1996, representatives of APA and ABA have identified, developed and pursued productive interdisciplinary projects and relationships. APA/ABA interactions have resulted in collaboration on a number of activities and facilitated useful forums for the exchange of views about critical issues and concerns affecting psychology and the law.

About APA

The American Psychological Association, established in 1892, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, with more than 122,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members. APA has 54 divisions representing every major focus within the field of psychology. APA’s mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

About ABA

The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with nearly 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. ABA is committed to doing what only a national association of attorneys can do: serving our members, improving the legal profession, eliminating bias and enhancing diversity, and advancing the rule of law throughout the United States and around the world. Founded in 1878, the ABA is committed to supporting the legal profession with practical resources for legal professionals while improving the administration of justice, accrediting law schools, establishing model ethical codes and more.

APA/ABA Continuing Education Conferences

APA and ABA have co-sponsored four continuing educational conferences to date on various topics ranging from child custody to psychological expertise in criminal justice.

The 2014 collaborative event will be the fifth national continuing education APA-ABA conference, “Confronting Family and Community Violence: The Intersection of Law and Psychology.”

Topics for Collaboration


APA's Office on Aging has had an ongoing relationship with the ABA Commission on Law and Aging since 2001. It was at that time that ongoing discussions between APA and ABA staff and governance began regarding issues of mutual concern to psychology and law and resulted in the idea to work together in the area of capacity assessment in older adults. Ongoing discussions between geropsychologist David Powers, PhD, Nancy Coleman, then director of COLA, and Deborah DiGilio, director of the APA Office on Aging, regarding issues of mutual concern to psychology and law resulted in the idea to work together in the area of capacity assessment in older adults.

At a series of meetings convened by APA's Ad Hoc Committee on Legal Issues (COLI) Task Force on Facilitating APA/ABA Relations, these parties advocated for greater attention to issues related to older adults and generated a list of important capacity issues and potential collaborative projects. The task force expressed support for the proposed efforts and encouraged initiation of APA/ABA activities related to capacity assessment in older adults.

Serious Mental Illness and the Death Penalty

APA and ABA convened a policy consensus that urges jurisdictions that impose capital punishment not to execute certain persons with mental disabilities under particular conditions.