The Mindfulness Blog

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It's A Family Affair

The "family"-- by way of analogy-- is the legal profession. Being reminded of that fact (tip of the hat to Sly and The Family Stone), and realizing that lawyer wellbeing really is a family affair, I find myself in a forgiving mood, and am inclined to give my family a little love. Back to responding, instead of reacting.

It's funny how so often, we start out trying to persuade others by employing simple reason and end up banging on the table, demanding attention and insisting on the kind of response we want to hear. I wonder if that behavior isn't somehow encouraged by the practice of law, as it has evolved into what it is today?

Maybe some of us in the legal profession should take a breath and consider the wisdom of doing things differently? The old adage teaches that we can catch more flies with honey, than vinegar. That seems to work outside the law-- maybe it can work inside the law?

I understand that lawyers are engaged to represent others, and in doing so, may be inclined to view opposing counsel as, "other". I also understand that lawyers are expected to be-- indeed, are required to be-- zealous advocates for their clients. But does that zealousness require that we abandon the notions of civility and professionalism? Certainly not.

Remembering how to disagree without being disagreeable seems to be something of a lost art. I believe that mindfulness and meditation can help us recapture that art by reminding us that a big part of effective advocacy is communicated in stillness and silence. Respectful stillness and silence.

Clients often have personal or professional conflicts that hijack their ability to do much of anything other than fight, and disagree reflexively. That is seemingly part of human nature but it's not something that clients need lawyers to model or mimic, on their behalf.

We lawyers need to remind ourselves: It's a family affair!


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