Tag Archives: neuro literacy for lawyers

Neuro-law: A New World of Law Part 3

 

BRAIN SPIKE IMAGE LIGHTS

Why should you, as a lawyer, care about Neuroscience?

This is part 3 of my series in Neurolaw – in which I provide some extracts explaining developments in legal thinking that you may not be aware of.

The Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is an interdisciplinary collaborative initiative with two main goals: (1) to help the legal system avoid misuse of neuroscientific evidence in criminal law contexts, and (2) to explore ways to deploy neuroscientific insights to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

The MacArthur Foundation laid the cornerstones for the Network by drawing together several dozen of the nation’s top researchers beginning in 2007 to conduct a coordinated and comprehensive investigation of basic issues at the intersection of law and neuroscience, funded by a four-year grant. In 2011, the new MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience began to build on those cornerstones with an interconnected program of research with three foci: Mental States, Development, and Evidence.

A conference on the Future of Law and Neuroscience is being held on 27 April 2013 in Chicago, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, the American Bar Association, Vanderbilt Law School, the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research, the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, and the American Bar Association Science & Technology Section.

The program will feature a law and neuroscience curriculum specifically designed for lawyers, and will draw on new research from the MacArthur Foundation Research Network. Topics to be covered include: An introduction to cognitive neuroscience (including brain imaging techniques) for lawyers; neuroscience and criminal justice; decision making; the developing brain; memory and lie detection; and evidentiary issues surrounding neuroscientific evidence.

You have a chance to learn about Neuroscience and Law here in South Africa in April 2013 with a global legal in this field, Pauline Tesler from San Francisco.

Make sure you don’t miss out.

Cape Town: 10 April 2013

Johannesburg: 23 April 2013

Click here to register.

Neuro-law: A New World of Law Part 2

David Eagleman (1)

 

Photo: David Eagleman from The Initiative of Neuroscience and the Law at the Baylor College of Medicine who spoke with federal judges at the D.C. Circuit Court bi-annual conference in 2012 about the importance of a scientifically-guided legal system. He has done dozens of public lectures across the US and has been featured on CNN.

All around the world institutions and organisations are being created to harness learning from neuroscience in the world of law. The point of a legal system is to resolve conflict and help people live alongside each other on Planet Earth.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that the legal system is falling way short of its goal. So how do we start shifting the legal profession? We do it by going back to understanding how people function and what lies at the heart of conflict.

Extract from Baylor College of Medicine’s Initiative on Neuroscience and Law:

Baylor College of Medicine’s Initiative on Neuroscience and Law addresses how new discoveries in neuroscience should navigate the way we make laws, punish criminals, and develop rehabilitation.  The project brings together a unique collaboration of neurobiologists, legal scholars, ethicists, medical humanists, and policy makers, with the goal of running experiments that will result in modern, evidence-based policy.

Emerging questions at the interface of law and neuroscience challenge fundamental notions at the heart of our criminal justice system. Because brains develop as a complex interaction of genes and environment, can we really assume that people are ‘practical reasoners’, and deciding in exactly the same way? Is mass incarceration the most fruitful method to deal with juveniles, the mentally ill, and the drug-addicted? Can novel technologies such as real-time brain imaging be leveraged for new methods of rehabilitation? Can large scale data analysis give us insight into patterns of crime, recidivism, and the effect of legislation? 

Because most behavior is driven by brain networks we do not consciously control, the legal system will eventually be forced to shift its emphasis from retribution to a forward-looking analysis of future behavior. In the light of modern neuroscience, it no longer makes sense to ask “was it his fault, or his biology’s fault, or the fault of hisbackground?”, because these issues can never be disentangled.  Instead, the only sensible question can be “what do we do from here?” — in terms of customized sentencing, tailored rehabilition, and refined incentive structuring.

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. 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.

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.

“Don’t leave me now, Don’t say it’s the end of the road”

DSC00236

Authenticity implies a way of being in the world wherein you remain true to the spirit of who you are at the soul level.  Sadly, growing numbers of lawyers globally leave the profession early because they are unable to align their professional and personal lives. This is particularly true for women who, in addition to the challenges lawyers face generally, find themselves in environments where only a male way of operating is valued. There are thousands of studies to indicate that men and women process information differently, solve problems differently and build relationships differently. However, law firms pay little, if any, attention to this and so to most women lawyers remain oblivious to what might be causing the growing sense of unease and dissatisfaction at their chosen career path.  But while attention needs to be paid to this issue, it’s not just women who are struggling.  Male lawyers are also wondering, as their every waking hour is spent engaged in fighting on behalf of clients or fighting their way to a partnership, if this is really what they want from their lives.

Many lawyers who may have begun their studies viewing law as a powerful tool for justice, equality and societal change become disheartened after a few years in practice.  A  lot  of  people  who  go  into  law  school  have  a  strong  sense  of  right  and wrong  and  a  belief  in  moral  truths.  Those  values  are  destroyed  in  law school,  where students  are taught  that  there  is  no  right  and  no wrong  and where  such  idealistic,  big-picture  concepts  get  usurped.  The way  the majority of students deal with this is to  become cynical. (See Ralph Nader  & Wesley J. Smith, No  Contest: Corporate  Lawyers  and  the Perversion of Justice in America 334  (1996).

Most people choose their careers by focusing on what profession best allows them to satisfy their ego needs. The term “ego” is not used in a negative sense here, it simply refers to the basic human needs such as survival (a safe secure environment for the self), relationships (the need for belonging and feeling loved and accepted by those with whom you interact daily) and self esteem (feeling good about yourself and having pride in your performance).  Once these ego needs are satisfied individuals then shift to the transformation level which is about embracing their individuality to become fully actualized and authentic. After that, one moves to internal cohesion which is where people start to find meaning for their lives by uncovering their purpose and aligning fully with who they are.

Usually it’s only after 10 or 20 years that people realise that the profession you chose in your youth is not the one that aligns with your passion.

But I don’t believe that we are called to the legal profession by accident and I don’t believe if you find yourself disillusioned that the only way you can align with your passion is to leave the legal profession.  And I was so delighted to engage in deep dialogue with 40 attorneys, advocates, prosecutors and mediators in September 2012 and hear them talk about their life purpose. Many of them had found ways to move to the transformation level (embracing their individuality) but remain in the legal profession. And I was surprised to see how many had moved to the internal cohesion level  – finding their life purpose and aligning fully with who they are. (Often this can be evidenced by the way people talk about what they do – the light that shines in their eyes. Sometimes you can sense they become almost tearful with the strength of their passion. Richard Barrett taught me this is their soul communicating.) Perhaps I should not have been that surprised as these were all legal professionals who had given up a day’s work to hear about Integrative Law in South Africa and connect with Kim Wright, author of Lawyers as Peacemakers. In other words, this was a group of lawyers already invested in personal transformation.

For some of them, aligning with who they really are had meant training in mediation, for others, finding a way to connect more deeply with things that gave their life meaning for example, one attorney is helping people with terminal illnesses, another is coaching people who find themselves in litigation because she knows that litigation is often merely an outward manifestation of underlying inner conflict.    These stories were moving and each indicated the struggle the individual had gone through to align fully with their purpose in an often unforgiving profession.

I have made it my mission for the next few years to help lawyers uncover their purpose and find ways to live to their full potential while continuing to practise law, perhaps in a different way, shape or form.  Alongside this, I’m hoping to revolutionize legal education in South Africa! Ambitious? Maybe I am, but with the contacts I have made in the last 12 months – conscious, committed lawyers (and coaches, and organisational development experts and lateral thinking experts) all over the globe who have offered me their time, assistance and intellectual property to fulfil this mission, I know I don’t have to be an expert – if I apply my mind to a problem, be it an individual’s struggle or an organisational one, I can design a powerful solution with this network at my fingertips.

I am so excited to be developing:

  • Coaching programmes for lawyers (with my new inspiring and energetic coaching partner, an expert in helping people develop resilience)
  • Mentoring programmes for lawyers
  •  Gender workshops for lawyers  – some in conjunction with a psychotherapist doing a PHD in Corporate Gender Relations (note: I wrote about Mary Ovenstone in June last year here, setting my intention that one day when the time was right, we’d collaborate.  And now we are. Love it when a plan comes together.)
  • Depth Leadership for Lawyers (with an expert in Deep Facilitation)
  • De  Bono lateral thinking workshops (with top SA De Bono expert)
  • The latest in Neuro-literacy Training for Lawyers (in April, with expert Pauline Tesler from San Francisco. This workshop is accredited by the ABA. I pray one day the LSSA will accredit such courses here in South Africa.)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

To know more, feel free to contact me using the contact tabs on this blog. To ensure  you don’t miss news of trainings, please sign up on www.cil.org.za I promise you won’t get bombarded with information. In fact you’ll be lucky to get monthly updates at this rate. But seriously, some of the experts will only be visiting South Africa once so you will need to move fast to be guaranteed cutting edge training.  I look forward to meeting 1000’s more committed, conscious lawyers in the months to come.