Lawyers as Agents of Transformation in Their Communities
The time has come for a Renaissance not of the mind, but of the collective. It is the time for a Renaissance of relationships, so to speak - a change in the way that we look at our world and the way we understand that our choices impact the culture and community around us.
For many years now the mindfulness movement has evolved in different ways and under many different names. Conscious lawyers, visionary law, holistic justice and relationship-based lawyering are all terms born of this movement. Not that the idea of building community is that “visionary” but it takes a visionary to make that first step toward change.
It isn’t just about the legal field – community transformation can and should happen across the gamut, from healthcare to education to the way that businesses interact with the public. Our goals and dreams have to reflect the fact that everything is connected, interdependent and that without the whole system nothing could move forward.
To make a community, it takes everyone looking on the problems with innovative eyes.
To be a leader means not only to understand in what direction we should head out, but also when you should hand the map over and let someone else point the way.
What is the core value of this integrative law movement? A shift of focus from differences and separation to a system that sees and honors every value the stakeholders possess. We need to focus on conflict prevention and building sustainable relationships instead of resolution after the fact. As lawyers, we can act as the coaches of our community and as a community team we can really make a difference, locally and beyond.
Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement
You don’t always have to be the first nut – sometimes it takes more leadership to follow.
PDF Leadership in Transformation: Building Capacity for a New Age
If you want to get into a general talk about community transformation and the trend toward mindfulness and interdependence in today’s society, this is the PDF for you. It isn’t geared specifically toward lawyers or the legal field, but it covers why community transformation is a universally important concept.
Educating Lawyers for Community
This PDF discusses incorporating mindfulness, ethics, education, psychology and spirituality into a cohesive approach to community engagement and civic professionalism. It has an interesting perspective on community transformation. As it is a longer piece, I suggest skimming through and reading in full the sections that really peak your interest.
The Transformation of Legal Education
To create transformation in our communities we have to create transformation in ourselves. This transformation should take place at the beginning of our education and continue on throughout our lives. This article, written by Arah Kellogg, describes the changing nature of today's legal world and changes being made in education to adapt newly emerging lawyers to the field.
Three lawyers seek to transform juvenile justice in their communities, beyond:
Three lawyers, George Timberlake, Julie Biehl and Ben Roe are all tackling the issue of juvenile justice in their communities. They work toward a revision of the way that the law handles youth and youth related crimes. They approach the problems in their community with rehabilitation, safety and support so that youth can reintegrate into productive society and hope that their example will have further reaching affects.
Community Transformation Partnership
This partnership in Washington received grant money to help affect transformation in their local community. Some of the areas they are focusing on are food, physical activity, community health and beyond that health equity. While this doesn't focus on the legal field, it is easy to see how mindful legal practices fit right into the other themes of community transformation.
Community Transformation Grants
Have an idea for a community transformation project but don't know where to get the funding to start? There are many grants available through different agencies across the U.S. Here is a list of the different projects and the funding they received to influence change in their communities.
The Lawyer's Role(s) in Deliberative Democracy
A publication put together by Carrie Menkel-Meadow of Georgetown University Law Center about the role of lawyers in deliberative democracy.
If you can soak in information better from a video then here is Carrie speaking on deliberative democracy and her discussions she covers in the paper “The Lawyer’s Role(s) in Deliberative Democracy.”
The Lawyer's Role in a Contemporary Democracy
A more user-friendly publication, the author Martin Bohmer talks about the role of lawyers promoting access to justice and government institutions, as equalizers and as translators for the public. He takes an ethical approach to law in a constitutional democracy.
Scale Up and Engage Community Partners
This publication offers easy-to-follow flow charts to accompany the information being presented, for those that might need some more visual stimulation. The focus here is more on creating community change through youth-centered initiatives but the steps and suggestions offered here can be universally applied to any transformative goal.
Public Conversations Project
Not sure where to go with your community transformation goals? One area where those in the legal profession can really thrive is in the area of public conversations. This project focuses on topics related to beliefs, identity and values; it focuses on creating conversations and promoting understanding instead of conflict and distrust. What conversations need to be brought up in your community? Where do you see a need for understanding and true communication?