Notes from Hastings’s Symposium on The Integrated Lawyer

From Debra Gerardi:

 “Wholeness is not a place you can get to. Wholeness is a kind of attitude or approach to the whole of life. It’s a way.” David Bohm

The University of California Hastings College of the Law held a two-day symposium last month entitled, The Integrated Lawyer: A Symposium on Well-Being and the Practice of Law.  It was co-hosted by UC Hastings’s Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, the Career Development Office, and Student Services.  We received generous support from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, our Academic Dean’s Office, and our student Wellness Committee.

The intersection between dispute resolution and well-being (individual and collective) is an exciting nexus that provides opportunities for amplifying concepts familiar to DR professionals through a broader lens. It reaches beyond resolution of disputes and negotiation of differences to include care for ourselves and one another, holistic approaches to practice, and promotion of the health of our communities.

The opportunity to positively impact the well-being of colleagues, clients, and society has always been embedded in our work. Emphasis on mindfulness, peace-making, community building, collaborative engagement, and healing have been ever-present threads in our field for decades. Exploring ways of weaving these threads of DR wisdom into the recent call for training “whole lawyers” (Foundations for Practice, 2016) and the growing need to enhance lawyer well-being is energizing and intriguing. Intentionally integrating our insights and approaches into everyday law practice and teaching is a great gift the DR community can provide to the legal community and beyond.

The symposium was developed in response to the National Task Force Report On Lawyer Well-Being (Task Force report, 2017) and as a component of Hastings’ current focus on enhancing well-being for our law students. Our intent was to provide a forum for mediators, legal scholars, legal practitioners, and law students to explore research and current practices for advancing well-being within the legal community.

A big thank you to all those who shared their wisdom and expertise. We are particularly grateful to our ADR colleagues who presented: Ken Fox (Mitchell Hamline), Charity Scott (Georgia State), Howard Herman (US District Court Northern California), Clark Freshman (UC Hastings), and Susan Brooks (Drexel), who provided the keynote. We are also very appreciative of Peter H. Huang (Colorado), Larry Krieger (Florida State), Rhonda Magee (USF), Joe Bankman (Stanford), Kelly Weisburg (UC Hastings), Lita Abella (California Bar Lawyer Assistance Program), Nancy Dolan (Wilson Sonsini), Jeena Cho (JC Law Group), Lori Stuart (Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office), Elizabeth Federowicz (Fenwick & West), and Kim Clary (Odyssey Teams) for sharing their time and expertise. Click here for access to conference materials.

The following provides highlights from a few of these integrated thinkers…

Professor Susan Brooks…Keynote: The Integrated Lawyer: Relational Perspectives and Practices to Foster Wholehearted Legal Professionals. Relational principles important for lawyers include: Kindness and curiosity; mattering; appreciation of context / culture; orientation toward strengths; and ethic of care. Relational practices that support integration of our whole being and support our professional practice include: Cultivating self-awareness; creating supportive spaces for open and inclusive dialogue (sense of belonging); and fostering empathy and compassion including self-compassion. For more, see Teaching Relational Lawyering.

Professor Ken Fox…Mirror as Prism: Dimensions of Awareness in Reflective Practice. Being effective in our work requires awareness of knowledge and skills that go beyond the law, process expertise and theory. It requires that we develop practices that “embody the full complexity of human experience and interaction in constructive conflict work.” Ken offers his integral model for reflective and reflexive practices which emphasizes awareness of self; of other; and of context (“prism of awareness”) across three domains of awareness: cognitive, emotional, and physiological. These variables provide a map of interacting facets through which to view emergent, complex and interconnected phenomena, the context in which we engage with conflict in human systems.

Ken’s presentation tied in nicely with the work that Howard Herman (Peer Circles for ADR Panel Mediators) presented outlining his processes for facilitating peer circles for mediators using a variety of lenses for guiding reflective / reflexive practice. Ken’s work also reinforced the practices put forth by Clark Freshman in his session on the Alchemy of Wellness Through Lie Detection, Negotiation, Mindfulness, and Compassion.

Professor Charity Scott…From Thinking like a Lawyer to Thriving as a Lawyer. Charity presented the amazing work that Georgia State Law School has undertaken to integrate mindfulness practices into legal education through their extracurricular programs. This includes Mindful Mondays, Wellness Wednesdays, and monthly wellness challenges in addition to efforts to embed mindfulness and well-being practices into courses such as professional responsibility and negotiation.

Charity spoke about the benefits of integrating mindfulness-based stress reduction practices into law schools as a means of supporting student well-being through the development of early practices and habits. These can benefit young lawyers as they move into professional roles by  helping them manage stress, improve focus, make ethical decisions, and generate wisdom. Georgia State also hosts a student chapter of the Mindfulness in Law Society.

Professor Larry Krieger…Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places…A Factor Analysis of Lawyer Happiness. Larry generously shared his most recent research which builds on his seminal study on what makes lawyers happy (Krieger and Sheldon, 2015). His initial research highlighted the importance of intrinsic and humanistic factors as indicators of happiness as opposed to extrinsic factors such as grades, rank, salary and achieving partner.

Larry’s recent analysis indicates that there is a common organizing principle emerging from the data. According to his analysis, the common factor is connection (to self, to work, to purpose, to others) and he equates this with love. He poses the question to all of us, “How can we teach and model connection and love as part of legal education in order to support well-being?” Now isn’t that a great place for us to begin the next evolution of our work?

We look forward to continuing the work and continuing the conversation…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.