Why Integrative Law Matters for Divorcing Couples: A Conversation With A Psychotherapist

 

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Kate Scharff,a  Washington D.C. psychotherapist, wrote this comment after reading a recent article of mine about Neuro-Literacy for Lawyers, published  in Family Lawyer Magazine:

Kate Scharff on August 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm said:

Pauline: I’m a mental health professional trained in Object Relations Theory (ORT), an outgrowth of classic analytic thinking. ORT holds with the common-sense notion that we are born with the inherent need to be in relationships, and that our early relational patterns form templates for later modes of relating– the more trauma contained in these patterns, the more rigidly predictive they become. Treatment is based on the idea that (within the context of a safe therapeutic container, and by using the relationship to the therapist as both a laboratory and a change agent), these templates can be modified.

So I’m used to thinking about how patterns are laid down in the psyche– but the brain science is mainly new to me. Your article is incredibly helpful in underscoring the neurobiological underpinnings for our experience of powerfully affective moments in a Collaborative case in which the trauma of the moment becomes a re-traumatization– not only for the client in question, but for others in the room whose own internal relational worlds are (unconsciously) activated.

Your work is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that it offers empirical support for the crucial notion that while moments in which our clients are emotionally flooded may not be moments in which they can think rationally,  they are the moments with transformative potential.

And speaking of the internal worlds of the professionals: not a revolutionary thought, but I do see the traditional adversarial construct as an elaborative intellectual defense against the threat of reactivation of our own trauma posed by the upsetting content of our work.

Thank you for the ways you continue to push us the edge of our capacities to integrate new ideas, expand our paradigms, and up our games. I’m generally not a fan of the word “inspirational,” but I can’t think of a better one.

Kate Scharff

I replied today:

Kate, I deeply appreciate this thoughtful and thought-provoking response to my article. Professionals working on trust-based, carefully guided collaborative teams know from experience that potentialities for transformative resolution can emerge at the negotiating table and that we can help clients profoundly if we learn to see and work in new ways with what’s in front of us.

Some longtime collaborative colleagues have mistakenly thought that my commitment to teaching “neuro-literacy” means I’ve left collaborative practice behind. Far from it. The language of the paradigm shift that was able to shock us out of habit-based divorce practice twenty years ago has become somewhat rote in our community, another box to be ticked in the list of what to discuss in a basic training, or a handy phrase for labeling difficulties we may be experiencing with other collaborative professionals.

For me, getting excellent at our work has always been about “aha” moments, about deeply understanding as much as possible about ourselves as the gorillas in the conflict resolution room, rather than about checklists and protocols (which are necessary but not nearly sufficient).

An 800 pound gorilla in the room

An 800 pound gorilla in the room

The Integrative Law Institute is my vehicle for learning and teaching more about this in a way that is fresh, challenging, and intellectually exciting. Starting with the hard science takes knowledge of decision science, positive psychology, neuro-economics, and the many other vectors of integrative law out of the realm of the optional. It’s proving to be quite an effective way to reach traditional adversarial lawyers who too often dismiss other ways of teaching self-reflective, mindful practice as “kumbaya” stuff of interest mainly to vegetarians in Birkenstocks rather than an important part of what every family law needs to know.

 

Outstanding Jurist Joins Integrative Law Institute Advisory Board

Judge Kevin Burke

Judge Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke’s official title is  District Judge in Hennepin County, Minnesota, but he is much more than that:   one of the most recognized leaders within the American judiciary today. 

During Judge Burke’s  four terms as Chief Judge and three terms as Assistant Chief Judge of the Hennepin County Courts,  he instituted social science studies – and reforms improving – procedural fairness in the court system, in ways that enhance public respect for and confidence in our judicial system itself. Among his achievements are serving as the Chair of the Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges and of  the State Board of Public Defense.  He was a leader in the effort to improve and expand the Minnesota’s public defender system, a vital link in the public’s perception of fairness in criminal proceedings.

            Judge Burke has been recognized by his peers for extraordinary leadership and creativity.  He was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the history of Minnesota by that state’s Law & Politics magazine.  In 1996 he received the Toll Fellowship, which  identifies emerging  leaders from all three branches of state government across the United States.  In 1997 he received the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  In 2002 the National Center for State Courts awarded him its Distinguished Service Award.  In 2003 he was selected as the William H. Rehnquist Award recipient by the National Center for State Courts.  The Rehnquist Award is presented annually to a state judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness and professional ethics.  He was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine in 2004.  In 2005 the Minnesota Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates named him Trial Judge of the Year.  The American Bar Association named him Judicial Educator of the year in 2010.

Judge Burke teaches at the University of Minnesota and University of St. Thomas law schools.  For many years he served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute’s Reflective Leadership Program.  Currently, Judge Burke is teaching the principles of neuro-literacy to judges across the U.S. and elsewhere; he has been a speaker in 38 states as well as Abu Dhabi, Canada, Egypt, Mexico, China, India and Ireland regarding improvement in judicial administration and court leadership.

Judge Burke has authored numerous articles, including (as co-author) two American Judges Association White Papers, “Procedural Fairness:  A Key Ingredient in Public Satisfaction” and “Minding the Court:  Enhancing the Decision-Making Process.”  He presently serves on the Board of the Institute for the Reform of the American Legal System.  He is a past Board member of the National Center for State Courts and the American Judicature Society.

Few  can equal Judge Burke’s commitment to improving the legal system in ways that affect ordinary people, and few can equal the range  of his intellectual interests or his contributions to bringing our court system into the 21st Century.  ILI is privileged to welcome Judge Burke to the Integrative Law Institute’s  Advisory Board.

Why Seek Out Certified Integrative Lawyers?

Integrative Lawyers

Integrative Law Institute at Commonweal

The Integrative Law movement is gaining traction and is reaching out to lawyers who may not yet see the need for changing business as usual.  ILI’s workshops and programs for certifying integrative lawyers are unusual in that they aim to reach lawyers who don’t self-identify as peacemakers–lawyers who without ever meaning to may be adding to the suffering of their clients who have legal issues that arise from broken personal relationships.

In this interview from KWMR radio, ILI Director Pauline Tesler talks about ILI’s mission:  to reclaim law as a healing profession.  She explains why it can be so important to take   your personal legal issues to a lawyer who has taken the time to learn about emerging  discoveries in the biological and social sciences concerning how humans make decisions, and how we  experience and resolve conflict. In other words…to an integrative lawyer.

KWMR Radio Interview:  Pauline Tesler talks about Integrative Law

http://www.kwmr.org/show/144

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

When Gandhi was a lawyer: Integrative Law Milestones

M. Gandhi, Integrative Lawyer

Mohandas Gandhi is well known and even revered for pioneering the  use of non-violent passive resistance for large-scale political purposes.  Less well known is his early career as a London-trained lawyer, captured in this remarkable photograph.

He rejected “business as usual” adversarial litigation, in favor of looking to heal the roots of conflict in the hearts of his clients experiencing personal disputes.  It was in the course of fighting as a lawyer for the civil rights of Muslim and Hindu Indians in South Africa that he was given a copy of  Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience to read while in jail.  Out of this grew Gandhi’s development of new techniques for mass nonviolent civil disobedience that became his life work.

We at ILI are putting together a gallery of  contrarian heroes of the legal profession who understood, long before mediation or ADR had names, that the highest and deepest calling of a lawyer working in the realm of personal disputes is to heal breaches in the social fabric that manifest as legal issues but gather their destructive force from fractured human relationships.

We begin with Gandhi, and we invite you to send us quotations and links to your personal favorite legal heroes in the evolution of what we now call Integrative Law. We’ll add those we especially like to the ILI Gallery.

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.

Clients Want Integrative Lawyering

Michael Lerner, an early MacArthur fellowship winner, founder of Commonweal, and founder of The New School at Commonweal, spoke in March with Pauline Tesler, director of the Integrative Law Institute.  Michael is an extraordinarily gifted interviewer whose questions and comments showed deep understanding of the challenges facing lawyers who work with individuals and families in personal disputes.

The audience in attendance listened with curiosity and afterward expressed amazement at hearing an experienced lawyer tell the truth about what’s wrong with delivery of legal services to people experiencing predictable human conflicts in their families and communities.

It was easy to hear the undercurrent of distrust and dislike for the legal profession imbedded in their questions and comments. Just as apparent was the desire to know more and to learn how to find an integrative lawyer for themselves or their families when seemingly irreconcilable conflicts arise.

That hunger for constructive, resolution-oriented, humanistic legal conflict resolution services is a driving force for ILI’s programming.   ILI offers certification in Integrative Legal Conflict  Resolution for lawyers who attend its continuing education programs.  The certification program will help lawyers build effective social media strategies so that they can be found by  potential clients when a lawyer’s counsel is needed.

A podcast of the conversation is available at the New School’s website..