We actually are in Kansas, Dorothy!
Cutting Edge Law
Q. Kim, I have to congratulate you. You are on a roll. Gretchen Duhaime, lawyer activist in the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers started the trend of road tours for legal activism. And, you are following course, and doing a fabulous job, cutting across the American Heartland with 30 stops in 17 days. You were in Kansas today. How was it?
A. I woke up in Lawrence, Kansas at the home of Judge Kate Carter, President of Renaissance Lawyer Society. We have a fantastic time at dinner last night. We have known each other for 8 years by phone and email but just met face to face. At the crack of dawn, I went to Topeka, home of Washburn Law School where I had breakfast with a number of faculty members called together by Professor Michael Schwartz. Professor Schwartz has been active in the Humanizing Legal Education movement and one of the former chairs of the Balance in Legal Education.
Q. Didn’t you feature him in your book?
A. He was one of the individuals featured in my book regarding his work humanizing legal education work in Washburn.
Q. Tell us about your conversations.
A. One professor there, Reggie Robinson, had worked on federal drug court policy a few years ago and wanted to know about how the problem-solving courts had evolved. We talked about the Veterans treatment courts and the fathers' courts which help fathers create bonds with their children so that they will visit them. I reported that the Veterans Courts are expanding and there are now around 40 of them.
Q. What other folks did you meet?
A. I met the Washburn Law School librarian; he purchased a copy of the book, which I signed. Mike Schwartz let me know that the book is sold out on the ABA site and is on back order. (I called and found out a new supply will arrive on Monday or Tuesday and they are still taking orders.) We also talked about his law and religion class and the integration of religion and spiritual values into law.
Q. Anyone else?
A. I was interested to speak with John Francis, director and clinical law professor. We talked about reaching different types of out of the box agreements in collaboration with local prosecutors. He wanted to know if I had ideas of how to bring the prosecutors along. I sympathized with the challenge - I have lived in places where the prosecutors were very rights based and not open to the ethic of care approaches. I pointed him in the direction of the Georgia Justice Project to see what could be done on only the defense side. It was a great conversation. Everyone was engaged and enjoyed it.
Q. And, then you drove a few hours to Wichita to meet with the Wichita Women Lawyers at the Watermark Bookstore. How was that event?
A. It was also a good dialogue, with a lively, engaged conversation. Most were drawn to the book and the talk because they were intrigued with not having to fight so much. They said that their bar is known for being particularly collegial, however, many of the ideas which I shared were new to them.
Q. Were there any particular concerns of the women from the local bar?
A. We talked about apology and how it can serve as an important catalyst to resolution and healing. We talked about how its use may vary widely, depending upon the legal subject matter context. And, of course, we talked about some contemporary examples; the BP oil spill came up and we discussed whether true apologies had occurred in that instance where honesty, and taking responsibility are considered part of apology.
Q. What do you see driving through Kansas?
A. I see miles and miles of plains, which reminds me of my childhood on a farm. And, I see more plants and flowers than trees, and many birds.
Q. Did the women lawyers make any comments regarding gender differences among with regard to peace-making?
A. I actually wondered if that question would arise, but it didn’t come up and I didn’t raise it myself.
Q. Were there any particularly poignant questions or comments?
A. There were many good questions, some within the larger group, and some afterwards in smaller conversations. One of the comments was from someone who works with guardianships and terminating parental rights said that she liked the idea of getting the big picture and asking the question how do you want this relationship to look in five years? Some of those cases involve grandparents obtaining custody on behalf of unfit children/ parents. She particularly liked the idea of asking clients to consider their long-term goals for the relationships affected by current litgation.
Q. So you are on your way to Denver tonight?
A. Yes, and I am planning to have breakfast in the morning at their Annual Meeting of the Collaborative Lawyers of Colorado.
Q. Where is that taking place?
A. At the Eloise May library in Denver.
Q. And your topic?
Q. Lawyers as Peacemakers.
A. And, do have yourself booked for multiple places again?
Q. In the afternoon, I am going to meet with some folks, among them attorney Stephanie-West Allen, who sponsors a blog - http://westallen.typepad.com/idealawg/ Stephanie and I met on line over ten years ago and have never sat face to face yet!
A. I am tired just thinking about your day tomorrow, but I hope that it is a great one!
Thanks Cheryl. Till we talk again!