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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Give peace a chance?

In writing about collaborative law for this week’s Minnesota Lawyer, I sensed a divide among attorneys who feel the method is valuable because it’s founded on avoiding conflict – and others who feel it’s counterproductive, even unethical, for the same reason.

That made me wonder what the latter group would think of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers,
a Delaware-based group whose vision is “a world where lawyers are valued as healers, helpers, counselors, problem-solvers, and peacemakers. Conflicts are seen as opportunities for growth. Lawyers model balanced lives and are respected for their contributions to the greater good.”

Most lawyers could be excused at this point for exclaiming, “Say what?” The idea of avoiding conflict, as collaborative law skeptics maintain, seems antithetical to the very idea of lawyering. But, proponents maintain, is there also not room in the legal business for the human touch, the ability to act as a peacemaker and a healer? Even if you’re not on board with the new-agey lexicon, it’s hard to dispute that the IAHL promotes some good ideas for human interaction, even if they don’t always fit comfortably in the practice of law.

If you feel like finding out for yourself what these mellow folks are all about, their annual leadership conference begins May 3 in Asheville, N.C. At the conference, author Constance d’Angelis will present her Seven Laws of Peaceful Solutions – which, in case you were wondering, are Unity, Perception, Cause and Effect, Alignment, Mental Attention, Gratitude, and Redemption.

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