Category Archives: Integrative Law Pioneers

The Lawyer’s Shadow Side

Make friends with your shadow

I’m reading the most fascinating book Lawyer, Know Thyself by Professor Susan Daicoff, a law professor who previously trained and worked as a psychotherapist. She lectures at the Phoenix School of Law on contracts, professional responsibility, leadership for lawyers, and comprehensive law practice (law as a healing profession) and is one of the pioneers leading the Integrative Law Movement. Note that Daicoff’s work tends to refer to the Comprehensive Law Movement rather than the Integrative Law Movement – but at the time of writing Lawyer, Know Thyself  (2004) the term “Integrative Law” wasn’t as prevalent as it is now in 2013. You can learn more about Daicoff through her website. 

Does this description of individuals who choose to enter law school resonate with you?

“Individuals who choose to enter law school appear to have various distinguishing characteristics as children and college students. They are highly focused on academics, have greater needs for dominance, leadership, and attention, and prefer initiating activity.41 They may have experienced a greater emphasis on scholastic achievement, reading, self-discipline, and the channeling of impulses into expression in their families.42 Their fathers were likely dominant and strong.43 They may have had good social skills but a low interest in emotions or others’ feelings.”

These early childhood characteristics of those drawn to law is very concordant with my own upbringing, as was the piece below. To help put the section in context: Alfred Adler, a noted psychologist, placed a great deal of emphasis on the early recollections and early childhood experiences of individuals in explaining their vocational choices – his work inspired the studies Daicoff includes in her research.

“A 1960 study by Barbara Nachmann determined that family background experiences of law students differed significantly from those of dentists and social workers.48 Nachmann found that authoritarian male dominance, self-discipline, school achievement, and reading were emphasized in law students’ early childhood, while emotions and concern for others’ feelings were de-emphasized.49 Comparing graduate social work students to dental and law students, Nachmann found that throughout the childhood of the law students, the father was a strong, dominant, adequate, authoritarian, and clearly masculine figure.50 The dental students were closer to their fathers than were the law students.51 Law students more frequently reported that their families promoted self-discipline, rather than submission to authority.52 Parental emphasis on school achievement and pleasurable early school experiences were more frequently reported by law students.53 Reading was more often emphasized and pleasantly remembered by the law students.54 Channeling impulses into activity (“do”) was more emphasized in law and social work students’ families; dental students’ families more often emphasized impulse repression (“don’t”).55 Finally, concern for emotional suffering and for the feelings of others was less emphasized in law and dental students’ families than in social work students’ families.56

I found this so eye-opening because it aligns so closely with my own family of origin!

  1. Strong emphasis on action – “doing” has always been prioritized over “being”.
  2. Huge emphasis on reading – a house filled with books, delivered by the truckload still. Anyone who doesn’t read is regarded as suspicious (seriously)
  3. A very powerful father.
  4. Not much time for focusing on emotions – a good night’s sleep was supposed to cure any affliction or else one should “just get on with it”.
  5. The idea of self-discipline rather than submission to authority is also very prevalent in my family (and has resulted in me and my siblings being largely unemployable – we’re currently all self-employed!).

I’d love to know what other lawyers have to say about this – and I yearn for funding to be able to initiate studies like this in South Africa.

Another piece of Daicoff’s book which is really giving me cause for thought is the facade that law students tend to have. Right now I’m working with the most brilliant leadership book and course ever – The New Leadership Paradigm (TNLP), by Richard Barrett  – in order to offer this course to lawyers. I keep being drawn, in all the research I do and my own personal development work, to the notion of our shadow side. This is the side we necessarily have – everything casts a shadow, but it is the unseen part. The Johari window exercise is one of the most common tools for helping people become aware of their shadow side and attention drawn to their blind spots. (note there’s some distinction between the Johari window and the Jobari and the Nohari window but I don’t want to digress into the detail – the point is that these windows draw one’s attention to the things we don’t know about ourselves. )

“The Johari window is a technique created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955[1] in the United States, used to help people better understand their relationship with self and others. It is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic exercise. When performing the exercise, subjects are given a list of 56 adjectives and pick five or six that they feel describe their own personality. Peers of the subject are then given the same list, and each pick five or six adjectives that describe the subject. These adjectives are then mapped onto a grid.[2]

Take a quick look at the Johari window.

 johari-window

One’s blind spot or “not known to self” would contain all the words/ attributes that the “assessors”  have selected from the list as things that describe you – BUT they don’t appear on your own list! While this may seem remarkably simplistic a tool, it can be profoundly insightful.  In many leadership studies it emerges that what a person sees as their strengths are actually perceived as their weaknesses. I.e someone things they are very “rational” – those they manage see them as “cold”. Or someone perceives themselves as a “strong” leader but others view this as “domineering”. Truly understanding the “flipside” of strengths and weaknesses is a vital part of self-knowledge for leaders. It takes work to become acquainted with your shadow – and much more work to befriend it. (This bit should explain the photograph chosen for this post – me and a walking companion making friends with our shadows on the 800km  walk  – the pilgrimmage “El Camino”.)

Daicoff writes about a study done in 1976 by Reich, which found that “law students’ external attributes appeared to be greatly at odds with their internal feelings”. The study shows that law students  “tend to be seen as aggressive, persuasive, having leadership potential and initiative, as being socially ascendant and self-seeking, quick, spontaneous, as having an expressive, ebullient nature, as intelligent, outspoken, sharp-witted, and possessing self-confidence . . . . [They would have] great interest in and enthusiasm for social role-playing, and for competitive, sharp-witted and self-seeking social relations. It is the picture of a group which projects itself or attempts to project itself, as socially successful, as possessing a high degree of social polish, and at least the appearance of great self-confidence, poise, and leadership.203

But the interesting thing is that the students in Reich’s study also scored significantly low on a “Sense of Well Being” scale. This led Reich to the following conclusions, which I’ll try to paraphrase a bit and quote a bit:

  1. the study seems to give ” some evidence of a flaw in the social armor of the law students; it may be an indication that on an inner level, on the level of self-doubt, the law student does not see himself as a polished, aggressive, successful, and dominant person.”
  2. “on an intrapersonal and inner level, law students are insecure, defensive, distant, and lacking in maturity and socialization.”210
  3.  Law students . . . wear a social mask and attempt to make a strong and definite impression on others; they act and react in great measure on the basis of the social role which they have adopted and which they feel is expected of them by society. While they publicly project strength, activity, and enthusiasm, their private personality is one of awkwardness, defensiveness, and nervousness. 
  4. It is highly possible that as a reaction formation to their inner feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty they have adopted a social posture which is dominant, clear-cut, and ascendant.211

Daicoff points out that “This analysis is entirely consistent with Alfred Adler’s concept that individuals choose careers in order to overcome feelings of inferiority or experiences of discomfort.212 Reich contends that law school is not likely to change these conflicting attributes of law students and, further, that a legal career actually exacerbates and perpetuates this conflict between the outer persona and inner feelings.213 Reich’s study suggests that there are pre-existing personality conflicts in law students which may be contributing to the current low levels of lawyer satisfaction and low public opinion of attorneys”.

My conclusions after reading all of this are as follows:

WIDE SPREAD leadership training is required across the legal profession

I am discovering the evidence and research necessary to support my assertion that wide-spread leadership training is required across the legal profession. (In SA I feel like a voice in the wilderness, but I am aware that in many parts of the world there is already great awareness of this and leadership training is given and being developed all the time.) Leadership training must include work on the lawyer’s shadow self, drawing the lawyer’s attention to their own inner world, which these studies have shown, are not a default part of the lawyer’s awareness. To re-iterate, learning about one’s shadow self is important for developing leadership ability in every individual but is ESPECIALLY important for lawyers who tend not to want to go there naturally, as a result of the families they tend to have grown up in, their personality profiles and of course, the effects of law school.

The Integrative Law Movement to be viewed systemically

Proponents and advocates of the Integrative Law Movement must realise that the Movement is to be viewed systemically and that change will occur in all 4 quadrants of the Ken Wilber model:

Wilbers 4 quadrants

    1. INTERNAL (individual): The inner work that lawyers must do.   Authenticity is remaining true to who one is at a soul level. Even a basic level of personal mastery requires that one becomes aware of one’s thoughts, feelings and emotions as well as one’s values, beliefs and motivations.
    2. EXTERNAL (individual): with greater awareness of one’s interior world, the way that lawyers behave in the world, and interact with their clients and their colleagues, will change
    3. INTERNAL (COLLECTIVE): the culture of the legal profession will begin to shift with the increased levels of authenticity – the values of lawyers will become an area of focus in law schools and when law firms recruit they will look at the lawyers’ values, not only their cognitive ability.
    4. EXTERNAL (COLLECTIVE): the legal profession will develop and grow new models for resolving conflict and preserving harmony in society. This means current models of practice such as Collaborative Law, Problem-solving courts, Preventive Law, Conscious Contracts, Restorative Justice and Transformative Mediation will increase and become viable alternatives to the adversarial and court-based models, not viewed any more as “fringe developments”.

AWARENESS OF THE LAWYER’S FACADE IS REQUIRED

The crisis of leadership we see in the profession is due in large part, in my humble opinion, to the strengthening of the facade that those drawn to law have, throughout law school and one’s apprenticeship at either the bench (law firm) or Bar (becoming an advocate). They are environments in which developing a strong facade is actually necessary for survival and to climb the hierarchical ladder. Therefore if one didn’t arrive at law school with a strong facade, I’m saying you’d sure as hell develop one between first year and being admitted as an attorney or advocate. (Personal story: for various reasons I was in intensive therapy during my period of completing articles – the therapeutic work was all about figuring out who I really was at a core level, who I was beyond the facade. I found it impossible to succeed at the therapeutic work – this process of integration that I knew was critical for my psychological health, while working in a large law firm. When my 2 years were up, I took the Oath, was admitted and ran for the hills to teach students from townships in a forest far away! I feel I need to write about this journey as I make more sense of it all. But it’s not very lawyerly to mix the personal with the professional. A law journal article NEVER mentions lawyer’s thoughts or feelings just as the magazines for the legal profession in South Africa do not refer to the inner life of the lawyer. It’s almost pathological, this avoidance of the interior world!)

MACCRATE REPORT: GET LEADERSHIP INTO LAW SCHOOLS!

I’m going to get my hands on the MacCrate Report soon, a 1992 report which calls for law schools to teach lawyering skills and professional values. And hopefully use this to work towards having a course on Integrative Law, incorporating pieces from Lawyer Know Thyself and The New Leadership Paradigm  – into EVERY LAW SCHOOL IN SOUTH AFRICA.

I am continually amazed at the low levels of self-awareness in the legal profession. Just a few examples I’ve come across recently:

  • A law lecturer at a large university in South Africa recently spoke to the Vice Dean about incorporating some Life coaching skills into the curriculum to which the Vice Dean replied “what is life coaching?”
  • Another Dean of a law faculty said “leadership skills” should be left to the business schools.
  • A law professor at SA’s largest legal school told a student who was seeking counselling for some personal or family issues that “if a person is unable to separate personal tragedy or trauma from practice, you should give up studying law right now”.

One day leadership courses and Integrative Law courses will be a part of every good law school’s curriculum. I’d just like to hasten that day.

I will work with the law schools, I will work with the Law Societies, I will work with the law firms and I will work with the individual lawyers who are ready to look beyond the facade they have created for their own safety. I understand this is scary work. I also understand this work is ahead of its time. But I am 100% committed. For comfort I keep coming back to the saying “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do.”

if this is of interest to you, please visit the Centre for Integrative Law site on www.integrativelaw.co.za  You may want to sign up to receive the CIL monthly; updates. Maybe you’re ready to meet some conscious lawyers who care about their clients and are doing personal growth work to help them develop greater fulfilment in their careers. You can learn about SAILA too – the Southern Africa Integrative Lawyers’ Association…

and our FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Centre-for-Integrative-Law/639014322793298 – you need to click LIKE and then once ticked, a drop down list appears and you need to select “receive posts” and “notifications” to stay in touch with events in SA and posts on this page.

*You can read a chapter of Daicoff’s book here, it was published  as a journal article in the American University Law Review, June, 1997. Her work is a marvel and deserves every recognition for the light she is shedding on the legal profession’s shadow side.

Advertisements

Neuro-law: A New World of Law Part 1

Triune brain artist impression

If you’re a lawyer (and chances are high if you’re reading this 😉 then you may well wonder what NEUROSCIENCE has to do with law or why you should care.

Here are some extracts explaining what’s going on around the world that you may not be aware of, understandably given the high demands of the legal profession and the pressure of billing by the hour.

Do you have time to read this? I’d argue you do for 2 reasons:

  1. You’re a lawyer and read really fast so you’ll soon decide if this is worth your while.
  2. Sometime you have to stop and sharpen the axe – even when it means you lose 15 minutes of billable tree-cutting time.

Extracts from Negotiation & Neuroscience by Kay Elliot.

Every day we are expected to make decisions that may have lasting effects: Do I negotiate with the customer that is obnoxious, demanding and unreasonable? Do I end a business relationship when the other party injures me financially? Do I negotiate with my life partner who has betrayed me about how much time I get to spend with our child? On a macro scale – should the USA negotiate with the Taliban when it is publicly dedicated to acts of terrorism against our country? Was Nelson Mandela right to negotiate with the apartheid regime of South Africa? Was Churchill wise to not negotiate with Hitler during World War II? When should we say no and fight? When should we say let’s negotiate? Is there a paradigm for making wise decisions in these difficult settings? Should we ever bargain with the “devil”?

Wise dispute resolution poses three challenges: avoiding predominately emotional decision making; taking the time to do a decision tree of alternatives; and assessing the ethical and moral issues involved in any situation. Neuroscientists and psychologists tell us that we all make these types of decisions using different parts of our brains: the intuitive, emotional brain and the rational, analytical brain. Other writers call these structures the old brain (the so-called snake brain) and the newer brain.

So take a look at the image again – thanks to Dr Paul Maclean – and see the 3 parts of the brain:

  1. Neo-cortex or new brain – cognitive section of the brain, the rational, figuring stuff out part
  2. Limbic system (in the middle)  – responsible for emotional attachments, also known as mammalian brain
  3. The Survival/ Reptilian/ Old brain – this is our flight or fight response that helps us act instantly when there isn’t time to weigh up pros and cons.

Some more from Kay Elliot:

The preference for distributive conflict styles prevents integration. In another context we see that narrowing the issues is beneficial for trying a law suit – fewer points to prove – but broadening the issues provides more scope for trades. The litigator in negotiating a settlement might only use the parts of the brain best suited for math problems and fail to utilize other parts of the brain better suited to creative tasks…

Neuroscience, while exciting, is still in its early stages of development. Neuroimaging holds the promise, however, of allowing unprecedented access to the mechanisms of the brain as it makes decisions. We are finally able to advance our understanding of just what is happening in the brain during negotiation and mediation, not by words but with pictures… 

There are many workshops being offered to mediators and negotiators in this and related fields. In the summer of 2010, for example, Pepperdine University School of Law presented Mindfulness for Conflict Resolvers: Lawyers, Mediators, Negotiators, Judges, Arbitrators & Managers, led by Len Riskin, Professor at the University of Florida College of Law, and Rachel Wohl, Director of the Maryland Supreme Court Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office. In June of that year a webinar on Contemplative Neuroscience with Richard Davidson from the University of Wisconsin was presented. On October 22, 2010, the University of California-Hastings College of Law sponsored a symposium on Emotions and Negotiation. Two leading authorities on non verbal communication, Paul Ekman and Clark Freshman, presented the latest research findings on using emotional information to negotiate more effectively…

In June, 2010, a course in Neuro-Collaboration was offered by Pauline Tesler (Attorney) and Thomas Lewis (MD and Neuroscientist) at Pepperdine. One observation from that course crystallizes the intersection of Neuroscience and Law:

“Collaborative lawyers undertake a task and if they are to do well at it, their beliefs and behaviors must support the ends they pursue and the processes they offer, must match up with what their clients and colleagues reasonably expect, and with what is known about how human beings actually do behave during conflict and conflict resolution processes. This does not mean that a collaborative lawyer must be a neuro-scientist or a psychotherapist or communications specialist. But collaborative lawyers do have a responsibility to make their work congruent with how they and their clients are biologically wired to think, feel, and decide, if they are to deliver what they promise.”

Lawyers all over the world are starting to see how learning from other disciplines, such as Neuroscience can have a profound effect on how we practise law.

Are you interested in innovation in law or do you aspire to the nostalgia of a law office lined with books and a mahogany desk with a jar of quill pens?

The Centre for Integrative Law’s mission is: To create a network of self-aware legal professionals, trained in global legal innovation, to articulate a new vision of law for South Africa.

If you’re interested in being a self-aware legal professional, trained in global legal innovation, come to hear the brilliant legal thought leader Pauline Tesler, from San Francisco, talking about Neuro-Literacy for Lawyers.

Cape Town: 10 April 2013

Johannesburg: 23 April 2013

Click here to register.

Part 2 of Neuro Law will follow.

Signs & Synchronicity & San Francisco

In January this year I read a book called Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership by Joseph Jaworski. It was such an amazing book it sparked off a vision for my future of creating a Centre for the Conscious Practice of Law. I should point out that the book doesn’t talk about centres for conscious law at all, but Jaworski is an ex lawyer and visionary so I suppose between the lines I came up with this sense of work I am meant to do.

Around May this year I stumbled upon the website of Kim Wright, author of a book called Lawyers as Peacemakers who seemed to be an expert on all the things I had written about in every single blog post up to that date.  I was amazed and enthralled. Kim and I set up a Skype call and spent close to 2 hours sharing and connecting ways to bring the Integrative Law Movement to South Africa. My discovery of Kim also led to my coming across the work of Pauline Tesler, now director of the recently established Integral Law Institute in California. It turns out my vision for a “centre for conscious law” is not that far-fetched at all. Pauline has recently established the Integrative Law Institute which is exactly such an organisation.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I also realised I had quoted Pauline Tesler in an article, without really looking into her work.

On 25 June I finally got around to reading some blog posts by the academically renowned and award-winning Pauline, I was blown away and wrote her an email that same day with the title “Wow, I want to talk to you”.

Within hours I received a wonderful response from Pauline, in which she asked me to have lunch with her, mistakenly thinking I was in the San Francisco Bay area when actually I was home in Cape Town.  To give some perspective, San Fran would be a 23 hour flight from Cape Town if you were able to fly direct. I let her know lunch wouldn’t be happening any time soon but that one day we would meet.

Using the term “Integrative Law” that I had now discovered from Kim’s work, I also stumbled across the work of Linda Alvarez, who drafts contracts based on the vision, mission and values of the parties. Sometime in June I had a wonderful  Skype chat with Linda too and found out she knows Kim quite well through the Integrative Law Movement.

Fast forward a few weeks to 12 July 2012. I was on holiday in Canada, with 2 days to spare before flying home to Cape Town.  I decided to take my credit card on a rollercoaster ride (it’s still screaming) and fly early the next morning from Victoria to Vancouver and then over to San Francisco to have meetings with Linda and Pauline. (They don’t know each other)  Considering it was only a 2 hour flight, it seemed crazy to come all the way back to South Africa without taking this risk.

So in just two and a half weeks, I was able to have that lunch with Pauline after all, on 13 July. I am so glad I did. I’ll be writing more about Pauline’s work and making arrangements to get her over to SA to share her work on neuro-science for lawyers and collaborative law (in which she’s trained over 5000 lawyers). As I got out of Pauline’s car I noticed this sticker on the back window:


Turns out her son is a surfer I think…but I saw it as a wonderful sign for the future of Shark Free Waters.

I spent Saturday 16 July with Linda Alvarez, a remarkable woman and ground-breaking lawyer who’s fitted many lives into this one – you can tell this when she casually refers to her days running a theatre company, or learning to ride bareback in the circus or working with the wonderful mystic and poet John O Donohue – and realise she sure has packed it in!  I will be sharing Linda’s work and bringing her over to SA as soon as time allows.

Linda kindly gave me a copy of Kim Wright’s book Lawyers as Peacemakers and now, back home in Cape Town, I’m devouring it. What a book! Every lawyer in the world should read this book. And every law professor too.

 

And as I flip through Kim’s book, reading as fast as I can, I jump to a page where Kim writes how she regards synchronicity as “one of the building blocks of my particular practice because of a book by lawyer and leadership expert Joseph Jaworski. His book, Synchronicity, was one of the books that launched my own journey”.

Yes, those are Kim’s words, on page 185, that I had never read until now.

My own blog post on 19 January 2012 is that Joseph’s book has:

significantly altered my thinking. I’d go so far as to say [it has] altered what I want to do with my life.”

Kim finishes this chapter of her book with the quote that begins “Until one is committed…” (sometimes attributed to Goethe). That’s the same quote I wrote about in June, and which is pasted on my fridge.

Kim says “pay attention to synchroncity”.

How could I not?

I happened to mention to a family friend here in South Africa that I had read this wonderful book by Joseph Jaworski. His response was:

“Joe’s a great guy, my wife and I really like him”.

So, to my complete astonishment and amazement, turns out that Joseph Jaworski, the ex trial lawyer from Boston and visionary creator of the American Leadership Forum, comes out to South Africa from time to time. I trust I will meet him when the time is right.

I Skyped with a leadership and development coach named Amy Powell in Australia in June. When she told me how some amazing synchronistic events unfolded after she read Jaworski’s book Synchronicity, well I just knew that Amy and I have work to do together. Turns out one of her biggest coaching clients is a law firm…

I’m choosing to feel held by a gentle web of synchronistic events guiding me towards the work I came to Earth to achieve. And achieve it I will, even at the risk of sounding like a New Age crackpot.

*photo of Golden Gate bridge taken on way to Half Moon Bay with Linda Alvarez, happily discussing law, life and love as we zipped along the Californian coastline.

Let the River Run

I’ve felt like my views on transforming the legal profession and my sharing them on this blog is just a little trickling stream. But now this little stream is turning into a river as I connect with people all over the globe who think the same way.  Several nights in the last week I have had the privilege of talking to amazing women (via Skype) from America, Australia, Bosnia – who are all working hard to transform the way lawyers practice, law firms operate and law schools teach law.  Each woman has connected me with other wonderful lawyers bringing about change and so it flows.

Last week I wondered aloud if I could find a woman lawyer in Cape Town who had done the Women Within training to help me launch the Integrative Law Movement in South Africa. Well, I got an email within 24 hours from the “right woman”. It was that easy. And I knew she was the “right woman” to help me when she emailed me this quote:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” (attributed to Goethe – but its attribution is apparently complex)

Of course I had this quotation on my fridge already.

On Saturday night I spoke to a couple at a party about my ideas and they said I should speak to their woman lawyer friend, who it turns out I had gone to law school with. I checked my phone just before I drove home at midnight and lo and behold, this long-lost law school friend had just asked me to connect with her on Linked-in.

I know it’s very New-Agey for lawyers…but I do believe in Karma and destiny.  I cannot doubt right now that the Universe is helping me do the work I am meant to be doing.

I wrote an article last week on Integrative Law and quoted Pauline Tesler at the top:

“What kind of person the lawyer is matters equally as much as the power of the lawyer’s intellect”.

To be completely honest, I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn’t actually look up Pauline’s work before I used the quote.  Today I stumbled onto her website, recognised her name and read a few posts. Wow. It was like reading my thoughts, only expressed better by someone else. Pauline teaches Practical Neuro-Literacy programs to lawyers and other professionals and while I’m not even clear what this means…I needed to know about her work because:

I met a neuro-scientist on Saturday who consults to corporates on various ways of harnessing brain function that I didn’t have time to understand. I told him I want to find out about the application of his work to lawyers.  Crash, bam, boom, whoosh, the pieces fall into place. Watch this space for neuro-science and law!

I was particularly struck by some paragraphs on Pauline Tesler’s blog (the Integral Institute) which I shall paste below.  I cannot wait to learn more about her work and bring it to South Africa. The bits I’ve chosen to quote are not about her neuro work but about the essential humanity of lawyers. Beautifully written.

And yet I,  a lawyer, saw immediately how these practices and insights could help members of my own profession reclaim meaning and integration in our daily work with clients–serving them better, and at the same time taking better care of ourselves as human beings.  It seems to me that the profound organizing purpose that most of us in the legal profession discovered in our early years and that we carry forth in our work arises out of deeply held values of fairness and peace.  Yet as we learn to be lawyers, we are socialized to move away from important human qualities and behaviors that surely are central in helping our clients find fair resolution and peace.

To become lawyers, we have struggled to hone necessary skills and to become excellent at what we do.  Although most of us brought to the table a facility with language, argumentation and logic, nonetheless it came easily to none of us to “think like a lawyer,” the first hard lesson of a legal education.  Many of us have paid a steep price as we shaped ourselves to match the professional persona of a lawyer, pruning away what doesn’t match the official job description  (empathy is often one of the early casualties) and squeezing into the box inconvenient  human qualities (our own emotions, our own most accessible ways of apprehending reality) unrelated to legalistic deductive reasoning, so as to keep them unseen and under control.

Do we have to leave behind essential humanity to practice law?  I don’t think so.  But that’s what happens to us in law school and in our on the job experiences in court.  No wonder lawyers register so high in all the indicia of a profession in trouble:  drug abuse, alcoholism, major depression, suicide.  We tend not to want our children to follow in our footsteps, and perhaps this problem–the loss of intrinsic human meaning in our daily work–is the reason.

Long may this river run.

Therapeutic Jurisprudence

I was intrigued when I came across the term “therapeutic jurisprudence”, in light of jurisprudence having been my favourite subject at law school and the amount of time I’ve spent in therapy. Jokes aside, this is a very interesting area of conscious law, or integrative law. I really hope to find more information on South African lawyers and organisations, perhaps NGO’s, who are working in this area.

The following are extracts from Wikipedia: (I put the bit I like in bold!)

Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) is a term first used by Professor David Wexler, University of Arizona Rogers College of Law and University of Puerto Rico School of Law, in a paper delivered to the National Institute of Mental Health in 1987. Along with Professor Bruce Winick, University of Miami School of Law, who originated the concept with Wexler, the professors suggested the need for a new perspective, TJ, to study the extent to which substantive rules, legal procedures, and the role of legal actors (lawyers and judgesprimarily) produce therapeutic or antitherapeutic consequences for individuals involved in the legal process.

Therapeutic Jurisprudence also has been applied in an effort to reframe the role of the lawyer. It envisions lawyers practicing with an ethic of care and heightened interpersonal skills, who value the psychological well being of their clients as well as their legal rights and interests, and to actively seek to prevent legal problems through creative drafting and problem-solving approaches.

The impact of Therapeutic Jurisprudence on lawyering was documented in Stolle, Wexler, and Winick’s 2000 book, Practicing Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Law as a Helping Profession. TJ also has begun to transform legal education, in particular clinical legal education. These developments were documented in a 2005 symposium issue of the St. Thomas University Law Review, “Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Clinical Legal Education and Skills Training.”

In 2008, Wexler published an edited volume dedicated to therapeutic jurisprudence and the criminal defense attorney. The book is entitled Rehabilitating Lawyers:Principles of Therapeutic Jurisprudence for Criminal Law Practice (Carolina Academic Press 2008)

I hope, by writing about movements like this,  I may be able to give exposure to the positive work being done around the world to make legal systems and legal professionals more conscious.

Kim Wright of Cutting Edge Law

J. Kim Wright, publisher and editor of CuttingEdgeLaw.com, an online community and magazine for lawyers. An attorney who practiced traditional law until she made the quantum shift to take her practice in an entirely different direction, Wright today coaches and inspires lawyers who seek to bring an ethos of care, mutual respect, and humanity to the way they practice law.

Kim’s book Lawyers As Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law, appears to have been welcomed by many people in the legal profession searching for a different way of practising law. You can read what people have had to say about her book here.  

A very interesting and considered review of Kim Wright’s book I found here  . Diane Levin, the reviewer, expresses some of the difficulties she had with the book, that other more conventional legal professionals might also have:

“But law — with its weight as venerable public institution, its central role in government, the presence of public oversight and accountability, its body of judicial decision making, appellate review, and codes of professional responsibility — fits uneasily with New Age theories and mystical practices. Their presence for this reader was distracting, and detracted from the joy of discovery that an informative book affords.”

Right now I too am concerned with how to talk about a conscious shift in law, a holistic approach, without conjuring up images of sage burning and a law office decorated with a dream catcher.  I think it’s possible. I think the world is becoming more open to new experiences. As the turn of the century approaches, we are beginning to see that values-driven organizations are topping the profitability and popularity polls. People are clamoring to work for organizations that care for them as a whole person, and give meaning and purpose to their lives by allowing them to express their creativity.” 

If the mainstream world is ready for books like Liberating the Corporate Soul, I think it might be ready for a little conscious law. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what Kim Wright has to say.

The Dream of a Common Language

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.