Information for Clients and the General Public
Our audience is focused on lawyers but law affects everyone.
If you are coming to the site for the first time, you may be surprised to know that any of this exists. Or, maybe you've seen Collaborative Law on the Today Show or heard that Robin Williams or Roy Disney were getting collaborative divorces. Or maybe you saw Restorative Justice on Oprah or on the number of good shows on television. Maybe you saw something in Shambhala about Mindfulness and Law. Or someone in your family has been involved in a problem-solving court.
We've been under the radar, transforming law for a while, but we're starting to get some attention. A whole movement has grown up and is taking hold. Courts and lawyers becoming more focused on peacemaking, healing, and holistically solving problems. It shows up in many ways and in almost every area of law. It is growing but isn't yet the most mainstream. ...That could be changing sooner than we expected. Our publisher, J. Kim Wright, is the author of an American Bar Association best seller,Lawyers as Peacemakers, Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law.
Here are some examples you may have heard of but by no means all of them. Peruse the rest of the site for much, much more information.
Recognized by many programs and articles in the media, collaborative law is an approach to resolving conflicts where the people in the conflict and their lawyers agree they are not going to court. They sign papers saying that the lawyers will actually resign and they have to start over if they don't resolve the case. As a result most cases do come to an agreement. It is a great tool for divorce and other kinds of cases where the people know each other and want to have a continuing relationship (such as parents, employers-employees, etc.) Often in collaborative law, there is a whole team of professionals (mental health therapists, financial advisors, etc.) who work with together as a team to resolve things.
When someone commits a crime, the scope of the harm is often broad. Criminal trials deal with the offender who committed the crime by punishing him or her. But what about the victim? What about the community where the crime happened? Who else was injured or affected? And what happened to that offender that led to this criminal behavior? Does the offender really need to be in jail to protect the community or is it possible to reintegrate the community and offender so that the root of the crime is addressed? These are some of the questions of restorative justice.
In Miami in 1989, a new holistic approach to courts was created. A few years later, it grew to California, Michigan and eventually to most states in the United States and over a dozen countries. There are around 3,000 problem-solving courts. An example: a veteran coming back from Iraq turns to drugs to numb the pain of what he experienced. He is arrested for writing bad checks to feed his habit. Should we lock him away in jail? Or is there a better approach to this problem? In a veterans treatment court, he would be supported and helped to not only kick his drug habit but restore his life and again become a part of the society he fought to protect. There are problem-solving courts for drugs, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health issues, drunk-driving, truancy, and many other issues.
That gives you the gist of the movement in a nutshell: holistic, humanistic, focused on healing and peacemaking, granting dignity to everyone in the process whether they are in a court or in the lawyer's office.
Hopefully that will help you with a foundation for learning more as you explore the site.
We're fairly new as a web site and most lawyers in this movement are not yet members of the site. But you can learn more about some of them at the Find a Lawyer or Allied Professional section . The Allied Professionals are people who serve as the counselors, financial advisors and other multidisciplinary team members who understand and work with this type of law.