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The Art Of Representation (Part III): Meditation

Who among us hasn't been required to make an important decision in a whirlwind of hotly contested facts and conflicting emotions? Who among us hasn't had to deal with equivocation or doubt in arguing the position of a particular client?

It's part of a lawyer's job--we are required to be a zealous advocate for our client(s). It's what we do. Zealous advocacy is codified prominently in the rules of professional conduct that govern our conduct, and protect our clients.

Let me be clear. I do not advocate for a change. I do, however, suggest that faithful compliance with that rule can sometimes be stressful--to say the very least. For some lawyers, under certain circumstances, it can be downright excruciating.

With few exceptions, we all deserve to have our point of view represented--at least here, in the United States. But that doesn't mean that representing a client's perspective, in certain circumstances, can't be difficult or problematic. Spoiler alert: Lawyers are people, too.

Representing others, in the manner mandated by the rules, requires the ability to manage the tension that can arise, on occasion, between the personal feelings of a lawyer, and the needs or the predicament of a client. And learning how to manage that tension is where meditation can really help.

First, we need to acknowledge that such a tension can arise. Second, we need to develop strategies that can help us address that tension, without internalizing it. It's totally OK for lawyers to have their own feelings about a client and/or the client's predicament--consciously or unconsciously, we all do. The art of representation is about how we manage those feelings.

How, specifically, might one take up that challenge? I've already touched upon the usefulness of stillness and contemplation--in this piece I would like to suggest, meditation. Think of it as a different strategy, for a different situation or different challenge.

Sometimes, I need just a moment of stillness--a bit of calm, in the eye of the storm. Sometimes, I need time for contemplation--sorting out strategic concerns that need to be considered, and wieghed. Sometimes, I need to find a cushion and meditate--notice the reactions in my body, observe the thoughts in my mind, and feel the emotions that attach to those thoughts.

The art of representation is recognizing, prioritizing and organizing the importance of information--all kinds of information. Some information is relatively simple and entirely factual. Some information is more complicated and requires more nuanced analysis. Some information has an emotional tone that needs to be recognized and addressed.

Stillness, contemplation and meditation are all strategies that we can employ in order to maximize the effectiveness of our representation of others. They may be a bit unconventional for some, but they're strategies that will serve both your clients, and you, very well.


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