Lawyers as Peacemakers
On my desk, I have a red button with the word "easy" written in white letters. Whenever I press the red button, a voice chirps: "that was easy."
Kim echoed this sentiment when I spoke to her this morning. Book is sold out. Sixty law students show up at a lecture in Missouri. Her laundry gets taken care of, as well as the rest of her needs, as if by magic. And is she tired from the traveling, the speaking engagements, the endless questions to the tune of ... "um, but is this peacemaking business, you know, practical?" Nope. "Invigorated" is the word she used. When she said that, I thought back to the times I have watched Amma, considered by many to be Hindu saint, spend 20 hours giving hugs non stop, smiling and laughing the whole time. According to Amma, "when there is love there is no effort."
"In an age where chaos abounds, politically, economically and socially, marked by much dissatisfaction with one's chosen profession, it is comforting to behold hope on the horizon. The legal profession is no exception. The multitude of lawyers leaving their line of work is reaching significant, if not alarming, proportions. The adversarial atmosphere and the combative confrontational approach ultimately wears thin on the brows or psyches of those whose sole aim is to bring order and stability to the lives of they who seek their services.
A newer, more beneficent methodology is becoming more widespread and more mainstream, bringing with it a more fulfilling result for the parties to a controversy or dispute and a greater sense of accomplishment for the advocates within. There is a shift in paradigm, or worldview, a set of beliefs about what is real and true.
"These new “communities” of lawyers and ideas inspire a look outside the box of our patterned way of thinking. They invite us into a transdisciplinary understanding of the value we add to people’s lives, and to the companies and other entities they lead and work for. More importantly, they help guide in our own search for what it means to practice law in a meaningful way, expanding our horizons of thought, feeling, emotion and spirit."
For full article, see: http://www.mediate.com/articles/shafferJ1.cfm
The idealism that drew so many of us to law school endures, evident in the work of lawyers who have reclaimed their role as compassionate defender of justice, skilled negotiator brokering peace, or principled leader wielding influence. These lawyers have their champions and spokespersons, notable among them 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. Diane Levin on Mediate.com
Yay! We've had some favorable reviews of Lawyers as Peacemakers, Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law!
J. Kim Wright is an ambitious woman. In this comprehensive resource manual, she describes dozens of ways in which lawyers, judges and legal workers across the country (and around the world) are attempting to change their profession for the better. The terms sound hopeful – Holistic Law, Renaissance Law, Transformative Law, Law with a Meditative Perspective. Spiritual Law, Law as a Healing Profession, Restorative Justice, Therapeutic Jurisprudence. Most profoundly, as the title reflects, “Lawyers as Peacemakers.” - Lainey Feingold
A mediator friend of mine, Deb House, and I presented a workshop at last week's ABA conference. The focus of the workshop was on the changing ways we practice law and I had the chance to talk to legal services advocates and a few law student about preventive law, therapeutic jurisprudence, community lawyering and a host of the other change vectors featured in Kim's book. The bulk of the workshop was the discussion about mediation and collaborative law but I was sure pleased by the reaction to our overall presentation and plan to tweak it a bit and use a power point slide show to jazz it up a bit.
I was pleased at several workshops to hear a lot of talk about working collaboratively and holistically as well as interdisciplinarily and heard many attorneys discussing making better use of unbundled or limited scope representation.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ~M. Gandhi
For a long time, our movement has operated under the radar. CuttingEdgeLaw was created partly to shine a light on a growing movement that had been ignored by most of the mainstream. (There have been some notable exceptions where the major media did cover us.)
Then the ABA published Lawyers as Peacemakers and it went to the best seller list in the first week and was named one of the 50 Flagship Books of the ABA. It became difficult to ignore.
From time to time over the years, I've given many lawyers a laugh by talking about lawyers as peacemakers and a movement in the law toward healing and problem-solving.
We may be reaching a new stage.
Today the book is available on line. The publication of Lawyers as Peacemakers, Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law, inspires me to share that it takes a village to write such a book. Below are the contributors and the acknowledgements from the book. Make sure to click through to "Read More" for the complete list.
With deep thanks to my collaborators and contributors:
Michael Matthews, my business partner, dear friend, and wonderful
and wise teacher, who constantly listens to me and holds space better than anyone I’ve ever known.
Editor and friend Sheila Boyce, for her willingness to step on my toes when it was called for, and ABA Editor Erin Nevius, for actually liking what I had to say.
Karen Werve Grant and Michael Grant, great writers and friends, who stepped up to work on the profile vignettes.
Eileen Dunn, Jane Faulkner, and Jill Dahlquist, who helped take care of the parts of me that are not my mind.