Defining Peacemaking Practices: Cindy Zatzman
by Cindy Lenoff Zatzman
Some observe that attempting to practice law as a peace-maker is an oxymoron. After all, legal professionals are taught the law, and how to practice law, in an adversarial system. For many or most members of the public, this implies that the job of the legal professional is to expand and extend legal conflict. And most of the people with such a perspective assume that attorneys choose adversarial work in order to earn more money. Sadly, many members of the general population are not aware that lawyers with the souls of healers are merely caught up in a system designed by others. Happily, many lawyers with the souls of healers are realizing that we can change this system and even work as healers within the system as it stands today.
In 1846, Abraham Lincoln said, “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” There are many fine attorneys who still believe this is so. One trait that is common among this group is the feeling of optimism – optimism that we can create a healing environment for our clients, for our communities, for our selves, for our planet. Another trait that seems universal among them is creativity – creativity in the way we classify conflict and the ways we would like to resolve conflict. Such a perspective does not mandate that we abandon litigation. It does, however, encourage the creation and development of other practice models that can, and do, provide alternatives for conflict resolution that award all the participants in the process with a sense of peace at the conclusion.
The fact is that it is impossible to exist without conflict. Whenever two or more gather together, the variations of individual perspective is fodder for conflict. Conflict is not, however, a bad thing in and of itself. Conflict is necessary for personal growth. What makes the difference is how we classify conflict – are we characterizing conflict as a clash of interests, or as a clash of expectations? The way we view conflict will directly impact the way we handle it. If we see conflict as a clash of interests, we set the stage for adversarial resolution models: there are only so many ways to divide the pie. When we characterize conflict as a clash of expectations instead, we can explore the vast array of possibilities available for resolution. By way of example, we can consider a variation of an old tale: the story of the orange.
Two sisters have one orange, and each wants that orange. If they simply regard obtaining the orange as the ultimate goal, there are few options: they can toss a coin for it, they can split it in half. If however, they engage in a dialog about what they would like to use the orange for, they may find a myriad of options. Let’s assume that one sister is baking a pie, and only needs the rind for her recipe, while the other sister wants to eat the fruit. If they take the time to explore their expectations, they can create a solution where both of them receive one hundred percent satisfaction!
There are as many models for peacemaking practice as there are areas of practice for legal professionals. Professor Susan Daicoff, of Florida Coastal School of Law, has organized a wealth of information about peacemaking resolution models in all areas of law, and we can all look to her work if curious about the many possibilities available to create a peacemaking practice. There are resources available on the internet to help locate information about peacemaking models as well as to connect with like-minded practitioners, such as the website for the Renaissance Lawyer Society. The Cutting Edge Law Magazine provides a forum for discussion of how the legal profession can incorporate peacemaking models into our regular practice, and into our lives generally.
In 1984, former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger said, “We ought to be healers of conflict. Should lawyers not be healers? Healers, not warriors? Healers, not procurers? Healers, not hired guns?”
Imagine the possibilities!
Editor's Note: Originally this was intended to be an on-going column. Cindy Zatzman was passionate about this movement. She wanted to be involved in any way she could. She spoke, wrote a column for the Florida bar, organized conferences, taught classes, argued, defended, and promoted the movement in every way she could. She was courageous in her willingness to stand up even when circumstances might have made it easier to stay seated. Sadly, Cindy died of lung cancer at the age of 49.
And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market-
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their warm pooled breath in and out
with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it; no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.
John Updike, Collected Poems 1953-1993