Mindful Law

Alan trained me to practice law. Much of the time we discussed the intricacies of statutes and judicial decisions, but often we had long talks about what would really make the client whole. This was not about the law. Spending a tremendous amount of money to sue someone or even defend yourself in a lawsuit rarely makes anyone whole or happy. 

We strategized about how to make the lawyer on the other side look like a hero and the way to craft the story to persuade our adversaries. It was important where we sat at the conference table, when we smiled, who spoke first. I often said to Alan I don't know exactly what it is you do, but it is not practicing law. Now I understand. Alan was practicing law, but he was practicing mindfully.

One of the core classes every law student takes is a class in Conflicts Negotiation. At the time I was enrolled in this class, none of it made sense to me. Then recently, one of my son's friends was telling me about the meditation instruction he received in his conflicts negotiation class at Northwestern University School of Law.

His professor, Leonard Riskin, has written  on the subject of mindfulness and the practice of law. In this article from the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, Professor Riskin writes: I wish to focus on how it can help law students and lawyers address two re- lated problems that many of them face. The first concerns high levels of unhappiness, stress, and depression among lawyers and law stu- dents. The second concerns the tendency of some lawyers to miss op- portunities to provide the most appropriate service to some clients.

As of two years ago, about 40 law schools were offering some kind of meditation instruction. There are at least two centers devoted to mindfulness and the law: University of California Berkeley and University of Miami.

In my world view, meditation relates to everything. Meditation enhances everything. Even lawyers are starting to get it. This is good for the world.