Lawyers as Healers
Lawyers As Healers
By Nadia S. Ballas-Ruta, Esq of www.HappyLotus.com
When I began my first year at law school, many of the second year students warned me that my way of looking at things would change by the end of the year. I never understood what they were talking about until later that spring. Someone told me that they would talk to me later and I found myself trying to analyze what did later mean. Did it mean in a few hours, a few days or maybe later was another way of saying never again. It was at that moment that I realized the power of a legal education.
Many times in society lawyers are viewed as being dividers or people who nit pick at details for no other reason than to make trouble. Lawyers are viewed as being money hungry, overly ambitious, ruthless, seekers of loop-holes, and people who are trained to bend the truth. No one ever mentions that lawyers are healers. Society reserves the term “healers” for those in the medicine profession and psychologists. To be candid, I never thought lawyers were healers either until my second year of law school.
I was interning at a United States Senator’s office when I got a phone call from a constituent whose son was in deep trouble somewhere overseas. The other people in the office ignored the desperation in the woman’s voice because usually everyone who calls sounds desperate. Eventually, the call found its way to me and I listened to the woman. I basically ignored the panic in her voice and listened to the facts. I asked her some questions so that I could get a clearer picture. I realized that what she was saying really required some action so I did what I could and eventually by the end of the week, we were able to rescue her son. A few days later, I received a thank you letter from the mother and I still have it as a reminder of that experience.
In life, we each carry our perceptions of how things should be. We have our own set of rules by which we operate when facing whatever crosses our path. I have come to see that with my legal education, I have been given the tool to see that there are many angles to a situation. Two people can witness an accident and both will give different accounts of what they saw. Is one version better than the other? No, both are rooted in truth according to the perceiver. That is where we lawyers become healers.
We are trained to see a situation from many different angles and to find a solution that works for all involved. We are peacemakers because we realize that each situation is a matter of perception. People are often angered because they feel their pain or suffering has not been acknowledged. Acknowledging that they do have pain and that we are willing to help them heal their pain is a powerful skill to have.
I have found that with my legal training, I can walk into any situation and immediately see all sides of the problem where before, I only knew the concept intellectually.
People come to lawyers because they have a problem that they want solved. They also contact us because they want to be heard. We give people a voice and we help them to heal their pain. The greatest skill we can offer people is to listen and acknowledge their pain. We do not have to agree with it, we just need to understand and then help them come to terms with it.
Sometimes that means going to court and sometimes it may simply take a phone call. By giving our clients respect and listening to their pain, we can change a situation that has the potential to explode into one that can be managed. That skill is a form of healing.
Nadia Ballas-Ruta is an independent contract attorney. She is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and runs her own blog, Happy Lotus (www.happylotus.com).