Finding Center Among Chaos–an Integrative Law BFOQ

My colleague Jennifer Tull, a collaborative lawyer from Austin, Texas, is blogging about how to keep your center and sense of purpose while working with clients going through major life transitions.  She writes beautifully and epitomizes the journey toward wholeness that is the hallmark of integrative law.    Here is her first post (we’ll be offering others from time to time):

Roller Coaster of Joy
Finding center among chaos

When I was a kid we would sometimes go to AstroWorld, a now-defunct theme park in Houston. Some of my friends were partial to the Alpine Sleigh Ride (which I did enjoy on some of those southeast Texas days where the temperature and the humidity are both somewhere around 10,000). Others went straight for the Bamboo Shoot, especially if there was someone in the crowd who didn’t know that the person who sits in front always gets soaked.

I was willing to go along with these wimps for a while, but before long I was impatient to climb aboard the Texas Rattler, and later, Greased Lightnin’ – once called the greatest roller coaster in the world. I loved everything about roller coasters – the dread that came with the click, click, click of the chain hill as you go up the first rise; that moment of liminal space when you’re not going up anymore but you haven’t yet started going down; the thrill of going 70 miles an hour down a 60 degree slope into a banking turn that becomes a full loop before you can catch your breath … and then it’s over, as you stumble in exhilaration to the back of the line to do it all over again.rollercoaster

I haven’t had the opportunity to ride a roller coaster in a decade or so, but it seems like lately I’m surrounded by people who are on emotional roller coasters: Clients who think they’re on the path to reconciliation only to learn of an ongoing affair; dear friends whose children are having life-threatening physical and mental health issues; colleagues being betrayed by trusted co-workers. It’s difficult to watch as their emotions careen from dark despair, through some double loops, to elation, then plummet to depths that seem to have no stopping point – all based on snippets of information that trickle into their world about things over which they have absolutely no control.

I was unprepared for life’s roller coaster with my own child, and because I never, ever want to be there again, I mined that event for everything I thought The Universe might be trying to teach me.

I learned that experiencing both highs and lows are equally important, and neither is reality. Reality is the platform from which you embark on your journey and to which you return when all the drama has ended – your place of spiritual poise or stasis. It’s where you live when things are not in crisis, and it informs how you perceive, interact with, and move through the world – in short, it defines your experience. I guess this place of repose is what some people would call your personality or prevailing world view. I like to think of it as my operating system – the thing that keeps everything running and from which all other programs are sourced.

I learned that if I start my roller coaster ride from a platform of chaos and fear, the ride will only make it worse. If I start the ride from a place of arrogance and perceived control, I just have that much farther to fall, and the process of falling might destroy me. But if I start my journey from a place of acceptance – the knowledge that the lows are temporary and so are the highs – I can have a completely different experience. Lows become rich times to absorb and appreciate all of the love and support I have from those around me; highs are opportunities for gratitude and giving back to others who are not as fortunate as I in that moment.

integrative brain wiring

Choosing your operating system

I learned that you can select the operating system you use. There are lots of fine operating systems to choose from, but if you don’t consciously choose, you will be stuck with the operating system that was installed at the factory, and that one is based on the limited amount of information available to you while you were becoming the person you are today. Much of that data is probably outdated, at best, and will leave you ill-equipped to take the next roller coaster ride that’s waiting for you right around the corner.

My roller coaster rides have caused me to upgrade my operating system, and I have settled on Joy. Joy combines all of the best features of Gratitude and Playfulness and is still agile enough to afford me a full range of emotions. Joy recognizes that there is no jumping for joyupper limit to how great things can be, while keeping me grounded and present. Joy allows me to be the one who yells, “BRING IT ON!” when faced with a challenge, and “WAHOO!” when an opportunity presents itself. Joy promises, when I get good enough at it, to allow me to be a solid, sturdy, centered me no matter what is going on in my world – and that’s so much better than AstroWorld it makes me laugh.

(Copyright © 2014 The Law Offices of Jennifer Tull, All rights reserved. Published here by permission.)

 

Copyright © |2014 *The Law Offices of Jennifer Tull, All rights reserved.

Program for Certifying Integrative Lawyers Announced by Integrative Law Institute

PROGRAM FOR CERTIFICATION IN INTEGRATIVE LAW

Certification in Integrative Law

ILI’s program for certifying integrative lawyers has two purposes:

  • to encourage and recognize lawyers who engage in significant continuing education study aimed at developing the skills and understandings that support practicing law as a healing profession, and
  • to provide a means for members of the public to locate and identify lawyers who are committed to providing professional services  that address human conflicts constructively, not solely as legal problems but also across the  many other dimensions in which conflict impacts lives.

The core of the certification program is ILI’s own workshops and programs for practicing lawyers.  The hallmark of ILI programs is that they integrate creative conflict resolution tools, traditional understandings and practices, and emerging research discoveries from the biological and social sciences in a manner that lawyers, mediators, and judicial officers can use right away in their work.  ILI’s workshops and trainings include hands-on experiential components wherever possible.

Applicants for ILI certification will be asked to provide documentation of at least 40 hours of continuing education course work consisting of at least 25 hours of  workshops and trainings provided by ILI, with the balance consisting of approved courses provided either by ILI or by its partner organizations and colleagues.

Lawyers who have earned ILI’s certification in integrative law will be listed on ILI’s website and social media sites with links back to their own websites, and will be permitted to display ILI’s certification badge on websites, social media sites, and on professional materials.  Under development is a plan to provide Certified Integrative Lawyers with an online participatory virtual community.

The certification program, some components of which are still under development, is  being launched in phases beginning in early 2013,  so that participants in current ILI workshops  who have interest in certification can be aware of this option as they plan their ongoing continuing education.

 Earning Certification Credits

For 2013, continuing education credits as follows may be submitted for purposes of certification.  New  ILI courses and a limited number of select additional continuing education partners will be added to this list from time to time. The courses will be offered in major U.S. cities during 2013 and 2014.  By 2014, ILI also expects to offer some courses online.

Invitations to bring any ILI program to your city are welcome, as are program co-sponsorships.

ILI workshops and courses (as of January 2013)

Pauline Tesler Presenting at Integrative Law Workshop


  • Law and the Human Brain: Neuro-Literacy 101 for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judges. A complete description of this course is available at  http://is.gd/NeuroLiteracy101 (6 hours)
  • Money, Law, and Values. An investigation of how money, law, and values intersect and sometimes collide in legal negotiations, and an exploration of pathways through the challenges.  The workshop is described in more depth  at  http://is.gd/MoneyLawValuesWorkshop  (6 hours)
  • Weekend Workshop:  Becoming an Integrative Lawyer.  (Attendance at a weekend workshop is required for certification.)  This is a  highly personalized workshop with limited enrollment, offered in a variety of peaceful locations convenient to major cities. Included in the workshop is  facilitated personal self-reflection and strategic planning for achieving a law practice that supports working as an integrative lawyer.  The workshop curriculum  provides an overview and introduction to integrative law vectors, including: therapeutic/integrative jurisprudence and ethics, communications, narrative and re-storying techniques, body-mind awareness practices and tools, human needs theory, positive psychology,  negotiations theory,  systems theory and team practice,  behavioral and neuro-economics perspectives, collaborative practice, apology/forgiveness,restorative justice, integrative and values-based transactional practice, interest-based negotiations.  The fee for the workshop includes one hour of follow-up individual practice development consultation with Pauline Tesler, either via video conferencing or in person.  (15 to 18 hours)

Continuing Education Partners (as of January 2013)

  Lawyers may submit for certification purposes proof of in-person attendance at approved continuing education courses offered by these organizations and individuals.  Ordinarily, courses submitted for certification must carry  either state bar approved continuing legal education credit, or alternatively,  APA, state, or similar approved  CEU credit intended for other professions, such as psychologists, psychotherapists, or health care professionals.  Courses offered by ILI partners that do not carry such approved credit or that are attended online will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

ILI welcomes certification partnership inquiries from workshop leaders, trainers, and organizations that provide high quality continuing education in the vectors recognized by ILI for integrative law certification.  We consider for certification partnership programs that offer substantial original material developed by the presenter.

To be included in ILI’s mailing list, click here:   For more information, contact Pauline Tesler:  phtesler@integrativelawinstitute.org

Powerful People Believe Everyone–Except Themselves–Should Follow Rules

Which one feels more powerful?

A recent study explored the impact of having power–or even thinking for a moment about power–on moral judgements.  Power causes  people to be much more likely to advocate for moral judgments based upon following the rules.  In contrast, people primed to think about or experience powerlessness  are much likelier to make situational moral judgments that aim at accomplishing the right outcome,  even if the means flout clear rules.

Jorris Lammers and his colleagues presented volunteers with sharp moral dilemmas, and asked them to decide the right course of conduct.  Should police interrogators falsely tell an admitted kidnapper that a world expert in use of torture (a prohibited interrogation method) was en route via helicopter to force disclosure of where the kidnapped young boy was being hidden?  Should doctors who knew a young man had only six months to live because of an incurable, fatal illness hide the diagnosis from him, as requested by his girlfriend but prohibited by applicable ethical rules, long enough for the young man to enjoy a forthcoming and long-anticipated vacation with  her?

Probing the impact of power on people’s moral thinking, the researchers assigned two conditions to the volunteers.  One group was primed with words associated with being powerful, or put in an experimental situation in which they were given power over others, while the second group was primed with words relating to powerlessness, or put in experimental situations in which others had power over them.  The powerful group was far more likely to insist that the rules must be followed.  The powerless group was far more likely to decide that the desirable end justified the impermissible means.

So are people more likely to act according to the rules if they are in positions of power?

Yes, unless it’s their own ox that is being gored.

Lammers’ group then asked both the “power-primed” and the “powerless-primed” groups to read a short narrative and decide whether it was OK for an impoverished apartment-seeker to jump a three-year waiting list for subsidized public housing by using a trick that would place him or her at the front of the queue. Again, those randomly assigned to the power condition were much likelier to disapprove of breaking the rules than those assigned to the powerless condition.

But this time, the study included a tricky wrinkle.  Half of each group read the narrative in the third person, while the other half of each group read the story in the first person, as follows:

“Suppose you are looking for a new apartment after your landlord has terminated the tenancy. However, the only affordable option is public housing, for which there is a three-year waiting list. There is however a trick that allows you to bypass the waiting list and immediately obtain a house.”

The impact of self interest was startling:  if the story was seen as about themselves, the effects of power on moral judgment were reversed.  Those in power were much less likely to insist that the rules should be applied to themselves, while those who were powerless were much more likely to insist that the rules must be followed if they envisioned themselves actually placed in the moral dilemma.

According to Irish neuroscientist Ian H. Robertson, “Power has strong neurological effects on the brain and one of them is that power fosters moral exceptionalism, where rules are applied strenuously to other people. . .but the {same people}. . . feel themselves excepted from equivalent rules governing their conduct.”

Why this insight matters in conflict resolution practice:

When lawyers handle legal conflicts that arise out of an important but  fractured human relationship (think: divorce, will contests, small partnership dissolutions, family business disputes) it’s common for existing or perceived power dynamics in the relationship to become magnified during litigation and settlement negotiations.

Experienced lawyers know that the designated or self-designated powerless party may carry an exaggerated notion of the other party’s ability to dominate negotiations.  Such perceptions may feed reactive, fear-based choices of aggressive legal counsel as well as flooding of “fight-or flight” emotions during key events in the dispute resolution process, whether in court or at the negotiating table.

This research adds a more complex dimension to power dynamics at the negotiating table.  Collaborative law and other interest-based settlement modalities depend on transparency and good faith negotiating practices.  Could it be that in disputes between parties who display  significant power disparities, the more powerful party may be more susceptible to bending the rules for personal advantage than the process permits?  Could it be that the more powerful lawyer at the table may do the same?

Conversely, might the more powerless party be likelier to cherry-pick, insisting on legal rights and entitlements when the rules benefit him/her, while advocating for outcome-based solutions when the rules benefit the other party?

We don’t have firm answers to these questions, but the study should cause us to ask: What tools and techniques could we devise that might re-weight the  moral scales back toward transparency, clarity, and a level playing field?

We might begin by doing a little neuro-education, adapting Lammers’ study with moral dilemmas more closely related to legal negotiations, and presenting our clients with those  moral dilemmas when we prepare them for negotiating sessions.  If we sensitize ourselves and our clients to the dynamics of power through education, we can name the problem and perhaps mitigate the impact.

And of course, we can make use of priming ourselves, to re-balance the scales.

Look for ILI courses in Neuro-Resolution to earn CLE credits while learning more about priming and other realities at the intersection of neuroscience and conflict resolution practice.

Ask your bar association to bring ILI’s Neuro-Resolution courses to your community.

The study is:   Lammers, Joris et al  (2009) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 279-289.  Robertson discusses this study in his forthcoming book:  The Winner Effect: How Power Affects Your Brain, to be released in  October by St Martin’s Press.

Narrative, Stories, Emotion and Meaning in Conflict Resolution Law Practice

A story full of emotion and meaning

For the past three days, I’ve been a participant-observer in a workshop for healthcare professionals presented by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a member of the faculty at University of California Medical School in San Francisco and a fellow program director at  Commonweal. Entitled The Healing Power of Story: Opening to a Deeper Human Connection, this workshop taught simple, accessible, and yet profound ways to reclaim surprise, meaning, and inspiration in the ordinary everyday encounters that professionals have with colleagues, clients, and patients.

Rachel’s work speaks most directly to healthcare professionals because of commonalities in the personal values and qualities that led them to choose nursing, or medicine, or veterinary practice, or psychotherapy as career paths.  All the people in the room (except me) had discovered before they were ten years old that caring for the needs of other living things was a fundamental organizing purpose of their lives.

And yet I,  a lawyer, saw immediately how these practices and insights could help members of my own profession reclaim meaning and integration in our daily work with clients–serving them better, and at the same time taking better care of ourselves as human beings.  It seems to me that the profound organizing purpose that most of us in the legal profession discovered in our early years and that we carry forth in our work arises out of deeply held values of fairness and peace.  Yet as we learn to be lawyers, we are socialized to move away from important human qualities and behaviors that surely are central in helping our clients find fair resolution and peace.

To become lawyers, we have struggled to hone necessary skills and to become excellent at what we do.  Although most of us brought to the table a facility with language, argumentation and logic, nonetheless it came easily to none of us to “think like a lawyer,” the first hard lesson of a legal education.  Many of us have paid a steep price as we shaped ourselves to match the professional persona of a lawyer, pruning away what doesn’t match the official job description  (empathy is often one of the early casualties) and squeezing into the box inconvenient  human qualities (our own emotions, our own most accessible ways of apprehending reality) unrelated to legalistic deductive reasoning, so as to keep them unseen and under control.

Do we have to leave behind essential humanity to practice law?  I don’t think so.  But that’s what happens to us in law school and in our on the job experiences in court.  No wonder lawyers register so high in all the indicia of a profession in trouble:  drug abuse, alcoholism, major depression, suicide.  We tend not to want our children to follow in our footsteps, and perhaps this problem–the loss of intrinsic human meaning in our daily work–is the reason.

I’ve taken from Rachel’s workshop some proven approaches that you’ll be seeing in the programs on reclaiming meaning in legal practice that the Integrative Law Institute will be offering during late 2012 and 2013. We will examine what we have in common that drew us to law rather than other professions, and what is intrinsic to helping others heal breaches in the social fabric, and what is not.

Email me at phtesler@integrativelawinstitute.org to join the list of lawyers, mediators, and judges receiving earliest notification and enrollment information for these events.

 

Rachel is the author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings.