Holistic Lawyering: Rethinking the Role of Lawyers in Society

The nature of academic law training has at its core an emphasis of the solving of problems, mainly through the application of relevant common law, statutory law and regulations, etc.  This is largely an intellectual exercise in which little attention is paid to the attorney’s role as counselor in helping individuals  navigate through some of the most challenging life situations faced in a lifetime.

While an increasing number of law schools are beginning to integrate some degree of practical experience for students in dealing with individuals facing real-life problems, the need for objective grading requires that students be evaluated according to “right” and “wrong” exam responses, a process that does not lend itself to an evaluation of subjective abilities such as empathy and compassion.

It is no surprise, given this orientation to legal education, that a vast majority of attorneys approach clients in terms of identifiable legal issues that may be solved within the framework of our current civil and criminal justice systems.  This “problem-oriented” approach, however, largely ignores the far more broad context of a client’s life, including learned conditioning, habitual reactions, current life situation, and other highly individualized factors that may well hold the key to a meaningful understanding of a client’s current situation.  Only through this more holistic understanding can an attorney identify an optimal course of action to serve the best interests of the individual client as well as those close to him or her, as well as society at large.

Insofar as individuals often approach attorneys in crises which collectively have broad implications for society at large, this new holistic model of practice is needed to transform the role of attorneys from intellectual problem solvers to counselors and healers.  For example, in the context of divorce, a  holistic approach may be the only way to ensure healthy development of adolescent children who would otherwise be caught in the crossfire of a misguided adversary process.  In the case of criminal defense, a holistic approach may be the only way of reducing the likelihood of repeat offenses.  Failure to employ a holistic approach integrating mindfulness in law practice is likely to ensure that the same behavioral and reactive patterns that brought about these situations will repeat in the future, long after the client’s legal problems have been solved.

To learn more about holistic law practice, and how to integrate mindfulness in law, contact Attorney Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, r visit http://www.MINDFULAW.com.