Member Groups

Women and the LawThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law

January 2006, vol. 11, no. 2

The lawyer as peacemaker and healer

Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser - in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. 

—Abraham Lincoln, 1850

As we in the western hemisphere in winter in recognition of the season of lights, peace and brotherly love, it seems appropriate to explore the role of the lawyer as peacemaker and healer and give thanks for the opportunity the practice of law gives each of us to “bring peace into room.” Although the idea of lawyer as peacemaker is by no way new in our legal community here in Illinois (good old Abe was promoting that paradigm shift over 150 years ago), the idea does not seem to be one that was actively subscripted to or formerly promoted until fairly recently. In this article I would like to: (1) share with you information regarding emerging international and local professional organizations dedicated to the active promotion of the concept of lawyer as peacemaker and healer, and (2) give thanks for the great opportunity the ISBA recently afforded us through the “Don’t Just Survive, Thrive” formum.

Internationally and nationally the following organizations are of note: the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers (IAHL) and, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. <http://www.collaborativepractice.com>.

IAHL membership is committed to “PEACELAW” as defined below:

Promote peaceful advocacy and holistic legal principles.
Encourage compassion, reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.
Advocate the need for a humane legal process.
Contribute to peace building at all levels.
Enjoy the practice of law.
Listen intentionally and deeply in order to gain complete understanding.
Acknowledge the opportunity in conflict.
Wholly honor and respect the dignity and integrity of each individual.

In looking at this organization commitments, the one that attracted me most was the specific commitment to “enjoy the practice of law.” When law is your profession, any avenue which promotes enjoyment should be worthy of consideration. For more information regarding this organization go to <www.iahl.org>. The exploration of organizations such as this one, would seem to be in alignment with the ISBA’s mission and vision for it members, as was embodied in the many wonderful lectures recently presented by the ISBA’s Solo and Small Business Committee’s forum “Don’t Just Survive, Thrive.” This type of coming together of with fellow lawyers for dialogue and quiet reflection on the role of the lawyer in the community is a must. This forum should be a must on all ISBA solos calendars for next year. 

I would also like to introduce you to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), <http://www.collaborativepractice.com>, which in October hosted the 6th annual networking and educational forum in Atlanta, Georgia. This forum attracted legal and other professionals from all over the global, including 22 professionals from the State of Illinois. The opening keynote speech was given by Justice Robert Benham. Justice Benham was the first African-American to serve as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court (1995 to 2001). He noted that the first professions in society were, the clergy—who healed the spirit, the doctor—who healed the body, and the lawyer—who healed the community. IACP professionals (lawyers, accountants, mental health specialist) are actively engaged in their respective communities in the promotion of the concept as the professional as healers and peace maker. The various professions work using the interdisciplinary collaborative practice model of dispute resolution. The advocacy under this model of dispute resolution is respectful, timely and cost effective for clients. It is client centered advocacy which shifts the focus to what are the clients needs and interests are and to helping clients articulating those needs and interests so as to develop enduring and sustainable solutions to the family and business issues. For more information regarding the practice model and the organization go to <www.collablawil.org> or <www.collaborativepractice.com>.

The local organization of trained interdisciplinary collaborative professionals is the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois (CLII). <http://www.collablawil.org>. On December 1 and 2, 2005, CLII will join other local groups at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago, to promote the concept of “Coming Together for Peace.” This joint conference is sponsored with the Association of Conflict Resolution (Chicago Chapter), the International Academy of Dispute Resolution, the Mediation Council of Illinois. I personally am honored and privileged to sit on the Board of CLII. I am grateful to have been trained in the collaborative practice model of dispute resolution developed by and evolving through the leadership and organization of the IACP. CLII is dedicated to the “transformation of the culture of conflict in Illinois.” It mission is to increase the public acceptance of collaborative practice by encouraging and supporting excellence among the Illinois community of collaborative professionals through education, training and standards. There are currently about 150 professionals (attorneys, accountants, and mental health professionals) trained statewide and there is an active membership of Fellows dedicated to bringing “peace to the room.” (For reading regarding this concept see, Erica A. Fox, Negotiation Journal, July, 2004, pp 461- 469, “Bringing Peace Into the Room” <www.pon.harvard.edu/hnii>. CLII will host its next basic and advanced trainings in collaborative practice in January, 2006. Registration and other information about training can be found at <www.collablawil.org>.

I hope in future installments to keep Catalyst readers updated on the development and growth of the paradigm shift in conflict resolution and to report on the organizations and activities which actively promotes the lawyer as peacemaker and “healer of the community.” I hope to advise on more opportunities available to lawyers to excel in the opportunity Abe envisioned that the practice of law allows us—that of being good “man” and women.

 

 

 


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