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The Culture Of Law

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the workplace culture that I left (while still standing) and in the course of that process, I recently read a tremendous paper published by The Mindfulness Initiative ("TMI") titled: Mindfulness: Developing Agency in Urgent Times.

The TMI paper doesn't directly address the subject of workplace culture, but it got me juiced up about connecting dots that aren't necessarily obvious, and started me thinking about the culture of law, in a different way. Specifically, it got me thinking about the intuitive wisdom of the right-brain, and the ways in which that wisdom has been ignored-- to the detriment of the women and men who practice law.

For the longest time, the skills valued by the legal profession have been skills that reside pretty much exclusively in the left-brain, but as a biologist and two-time Pulitzer prize winner is quoted as having observed, "We are drawing in [a lot of] information, while starving for wisdom".

Integrating the two different modes of mind is addressed by TMI in the portion of its paper captioned, "Understanding: making sense and making decisions". Specifically, TMI argues that mindfulness can help us develop cognitive flexibility (as opposed to cognitive rigidity) and by broadening our perspective, we can also develop a kind of meta-cognitive awareness-- a process referred to as, "decentering".

Elevating knowledge of information, at the cost of cultivating wisdom, has-- I believe-- taken a serious toll on the legal profession. Sure, knowledge of factual matters (such as, knowledge of statutory and common law) will always be important for lawyers, but the wisdom and insight that derives from a more intuitive understanding, is what distinguishes superstar lawyers from the merely competent.

As stated in the Introduction to the cited TMI paper, "Beyond a 'nice to have' wellbeing benefit in the workplace... cultivating the innate capacity of mindfulness and its essential qualities such as attention regulation, receptivity, meta-cognition, cognitive flexibility, embodiment, emotion regulation and kindness could be foundational in responding to the complex challenges of the 21st Century".

Stuff that in your left-brain, and think it!


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