In the last few months I’ve wished I had a clearer explanation of what I do. I tend to end up explaining what I used to do (lawyer, Educational director of non-profit college, law lecturer) to arrive in a round-about way at what I do now. I’m not sure a job title is all that important. But it does make it hard to design a business card. What am I supposed to put under my name?
Titles aside, I do have a clear sense that my mission (at least for the next while) is:
To contribute to the conscious transformation of the legal profession.
This draws many blank stares. Perhaps it’s the fact I use “conscious” and “legal” in the same sentence? I believe the phrase “conscious law” does not have to be an oxymoron. It is possible to practise law in a way that is just, equitable and humane and it is possible to develop a legal system that is efficient and effective and gives people dignity.
We live in exciting times. There is a global shift towards a new way of being in the world. New ways of eating, living, building, communicating, doing business – because, simply put, people are realising that continuing to do things as we used to, is killing both ourselves and the planet. Recognition of this global shift is no longer the preserve of New Age hippies expounding on vegetarianism and communal living. It covers every industry and it’s reaching the legal world too.(For a list of 100 Spiritual leaders who all, in some way, write about this global shift, you can look here)
So I don’t have a title but I’m realising I am not alone. I have dreamed of a common language (phrase borrowed from the wonderful poet Adrienne Rich) to talk to others who are writing and thinking about law, legal systems and legal professionals in a new way, a more conscious way. Today, stumbling around the internet, I came across the book Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law by Kim Wright. And linked to this I’ve found
People who speak this language of a conscious transformation in law!
I don’t feel I’m such a voice in the wilderness anymore! Here’s a brief introduction to some of the people I hope, over time, to be able to call my thinking partners. I’ll be writing about each of these people as I research them and hopefully get in touch with them. (Unfortunately this sort of research doesn’t pay the rent – an obstacle I’m trying to overcome)
David B. Wexler: Blah: Professor of Law and Director, International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, University of Puerto Rico, and Distinguished Research Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology, University of Arizona. Interesting: He writes of …a bench and bar that better serves society, and a legal profession composed of counselors, leaders, and peacemakers.
Pauline H. Tesler: Blah: co-founder of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, co-editor of the journal The Collaborative Review, fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, author of Collaborative Law: Achieving Effective Resolution in Divorce without Litigation, and in August 2002, was co-recipient (with Stu Webb) of the first American Bar Association “Lawyer as Problem Solver” award. Interesting: In this emerging jurisprudence, as the overarching purpose of our professional work shifts from winning legal victories to providing meaningful conflict resolution services for our clients, what kind of person the lawyer is matters equally as much as the power of the lawyer’s intellect.
Jeff Brown: Blah: author of Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation. He calls himself an author, film maker, grounded spiritualist – and used to be a criminal lawyer. Interesting: To the extent that you identify and honour your true path in this lifetime, you will know genuine satisfaction, real peace in your skin.. You will be infused with vitality and a clarified focus, new pathways of possibility appear where before there were obstacles.
James Melamed: co-founder of Resourceful Internet Solutions (RIS) and Mediate.com, founder of The Mediation Center in Eugene, Oregon, former Executive Director of the national Academy of Family Mediators, and professor of Mediation at the Pepperdine University School of Law’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.
Dolly M. Garlo: Blah: RN, JD, PCC is President of Thrive!!© Inc. (www.AllThrive.com) and Founder of Creating Legacy™ (www.CreatingLegacyNetwork.com) Interesting: “Turns out there is a harmony of voices in our profession—caring, committed professional lawyers who also understand that the work is not about issues or cases or parties, but about people, and how the law impacts and affects them”
Sunny Schwartz: Blah: Esq, Program Administrator, San Francisco Sheriff’s Department and author of Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption, and One Woman’s Fight to Restore Justice to All. Interesting: “Wright’s book is a beautiful and palpable illustration that will bring a more dignified and effective approach to American jurisprudence. Reading this book will benefit us all and is a must read for lawyers, judges, clients and the general community, as reading this book enhances our humanity.”
Linda Warren Seely: Blah: Director of Pro Bono Projects, Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. Interesting: “ a different vision of how conflicts can be resolved, using all of the intelligences and many alternative tools to bring about real and meaningful change in people’s lives.”
John Lande: Blah: Isidor Loeb Professor and Director, LL.M. Program in Dispute Resolution, University of Missouri School of Law. His scholarship focuses on various aspects of dispute systems design, including publications analyzing how lawyering and mediation practices transform each other, business lawyers’ and executives’ opinions about litigation and ADR, designing court-connected mediation programs, improving the quality of mediation practice, the “vanishing trial,” and planned early negotiation. Interesting: He writes a book review of Kim Wright’s book and says she “ has compiled a treasure trove of ideas and wisdom for lawyers who want to use their heads and hearts to help clients in humanistic ways. “
Stuart Webb: founder of collaborative law, has appeared on the CBS Evening News and in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and in August 2002, was co-recipient (with Pauline Tesler) of the first American Bar Association, “Lawyer as Problem Solver” award. Webb founded Collaborative Law in 1990, after becoming disillusioned with the acrimony and negativity traditionally associated with divorce. Since then, he has trained other lawyers in forty states and in Europe.
Cheryl Conner: Blah: Founder, New Prospects Collaborative, Boston, former law professor and Asst. U.S. Attorney Cheryl Conner Cheryl Conner is a thought leader, lawyer, professor and activist who, throughout her life, has empowered girls and women lawyers to powerfully be themselves for the sake of the world around them. Interesting: After practicing law as an Asst. U.S. Attorney, an Asst. A.G., as Mass. Senate Counsel and a lawyer at Goodwin, Procter, she turned to academia, where she pioneered holistic approaches to lawyering. By supporting the individual creative spirit, the inner journey and the power of collaboration, she helps unleash your fire to be your most expansive, authentic, creative self. She holds the view that these gifts are sorely needed in a system-wide collaborative effort to re-create our social institutions and save our planet.
Gretchen Duhaime: As Founder of Practicing on Purpose LLC, Gretchen developed a wellness model designed to help lawyers strive for balance and purpose in life and law. As a work-at-home mom with a toddler and baby, Gretchen’s life is built on feminine values and work/life integration. Interesting! Her journey to help other women live balanced lives began with her undergraduate Women’s Studies thesis, which gave new meaning to Simone de Beauvoir’s Le Deuxieme Sexe by setting excerpts to music sung by a capella soprano. Gretchen’s pre-law school career brought integration and collaboration to male-dominated industries and organizations, through a systems-thinking lens.
Diane Diel: past President, State Bar of Wisconsin, President-Elect, International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. She has served on the Professional Ethics Committee of the State Bar (1986-1992) and on the Trust Account Working Group (2004-2007) which restated trust account record keeping and advance fee management rules applicable to lawyers in the State of Wisconsin. She is a frequent trainer and speaker on collaborative practice and on ethical topics.
Kim Schavey: All interesting: As an M.B.A., J.D. and minister, Kim Schavey shares her perspective on the evolution of the legal profession. As a student of New Thought metaphysics for over a decade, she talks about how she sees a common path of interconnectedness and transcending the win/lose mentality of the courtroom and how the evolution is influenced by a pendulum swing of masculine and feminine energies. Kim calls for a balancing of these energies in the law and financial industries. Referring to Ken Wilber’s work, she talks about the evolution of the species, not as mutation of genes but in terms of adding truths to human consciousness.
Darity Wesley: Founder of the Lotus Law Center (www.LotusLawCenter.com), Darity practices “A New Kind of Law™” which incorporates integrity, caring and compassion into 25 plus years of business law and strategy and is a national expert in data and technology licensing. Chief Privacy Guru and founder of Privacy Solutions, Inc. (www.PrivacyGurus.com).
So there you go! A whole bunch of people who talk about conscious law, renaissance law, ethics and humanity and morality, holistic approaches to lawyering, collaborative practice, Practicing on Purpose…
This is just the beginning of my journey. But today I am happy. These are my people. I’m finding a home.
Amanda, so happy to be one of your people. And so glad you are one of mine. Cheers, Dolly
Love it, Amanda. No, you are not alone in the wilderness. More and more lawyers are refusing to practice law in the way they’ve been taught it must be practiced and I, for one, am encouraging and helping them all the way!!! Change is absolutely possible – I’m seeing it! This is not the same legal profession I entered almost 20 years ago and thank God for that!.