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Creating Community

There is an old saying that the first three professions were the clergy to heal the soul, the doctor to heal the body and the lawyer to heal the community.


Lawyers as healers? I’m guessing is a game of word association that is not the first connection most people would make. Somewhere along the way, lawyers moved away from their role as peacemakers and wise elders to a more adversarial position. The why and how this happened is a much longer conversation (probably best discussed over a good bottle of wine) but for now I wanted to share a glimpse into the inspiring work of the integrative law movement.


There is a global grassroots movement working to move the profession back to that original design. This month I am co-teaching a workshop using the process of Conscious Contracts ® to help participants create their Operating Agreement of Me. The Conscious Contract® process is much more than a different way to format a document. Traditional contracts are written from a standpoint of predict and protect. This is grounded in fear and scarcity and a mistrust of others. Most contracts are created at the beginning of a relationship. What kind of foundation are we building if we start from a place of fear and mistrust?


Conscious Contracts®, on the other hand, are grounded in shared values, authenticity, integrity, and trust. The two main elements of a Conscious Contract® are the Touchstone and the ACED. The Touchstone contains our core values, vision, and mission. Who we are and why we have come together. The ACED is our process for Addressing Change and Engaging Disagreement. Working together, we design our process for working through the change and conflict that will inevitably come up so that we can stay on track. This basic formula for defining who we are and how we will work together can be applied in a variety of situations because it is grounded in the relationships between people. I have used this process for partnership agreements, prenups and organizational documents.


The Operating Agreement of Me applies the process on an individual level. Imagine if you had a simple document that described who you are, what makes you tick, your vision for the world, and how you work best on a team or with clients. Imagine entering a new relationship with that level of honesty and authenticity on all sides. How different would your workplace feel if everyone knew each other on this level? Would it increase productivity? Responsiveness? Morale?


Our current class has 20 participants from 7 different countries across 4 continents. I am constantly inspired by the breadth of the integrative law movement and the remarkable people I have met around the globe all working to bring the legal profession back to its roots of healing our communities. The last 2 years turned the world upside down and shook us out of our comfortable “norms”. This created a lot of stress, but it also opened the door to new innovations and the opportunity to create new communities.

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