Kenneth Cloke is the sixth Legal Highlight. He is Director of Center for Dispute Resolution, and his newest book is The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey into the Heart of Dispute Resolution. (Review of Cloke's book.)
Please click back to the first of the Legal Highlights to learn about the Legal Highlights process and the reason behind this feature which focuses on what is right and working well in the legal profession.
And now read on the see what this Legal Highlight has to say in response to the seven questions . . .
1) Think about your recent experience in the legal profession and of a specific incident or event that made you feel extremely satisfied or proud. Give a brief description of the incident or event. The reasons I felt satisfied or proud were . . .
My recent experiences have produced contradictory feelings. There are things we should all feel proud of about the legal profession and, unfortunately, things we should all be ashamed of. I think we need to be conscious of both. I am, for example, proud of the lawyers who have opposed the extra-legal proceedings and use of what can only be called torture at Guantanamo, and ashamed that there are lawyers who still attempt to justify such proceedings.
2) I attended law school because . . .
I attended law school because of my experiences in the civil rights and free speech movements of the 1960’s, and my sense that law could be a powerful force for equality, justice and social change. It is less clear today that the law will support social justice, protect the environment, or come to the aid of those who lack the financial resources to hire the best advocates to advance their needs.
3) I would recommend the practice of law because . . .
I would not recommend the practice of law without first wanting to know why the person wants to become an attorney, since there are many ways in which the practice of law can be emotionally debilitating, unnecessarily adversarial, and personally alienating. I would, however, absolutely and without reservation recommend that attorneys learn the practice of mediation, which is emotionally satisfying, highly collaborative, and personally fulfilling, both in the short and long run.
4) My colleagues who practice law appreciate doing so because . . .
Mostly, I think they appreciate the law because it allows them to bring much needed help to people who are suffering.
5) The benefits lawyers contribute to society are . . .
The greatest benefits I see coming from the law today lie in the effort to build collaborative law practices which encourage attorneys to work together to assist their clients in reaching agreements with each other, rather than fighting over issues that can easily be resolved.
6) The factors that make up the heart and the soul of law are . . .
Heart and soul are much larger than the law, and can be found within it just as they can be found in anything that is touched by human beings. It is less that there is heart and soul in law than that law, without justice, possesses neither heart nor soul, and quickly turns bureaucratic and destructive. What is required to produce justice, however, is precisely heart and soul.
7) Think of a lawyer you consider a role model. The traits or values I respect or admire about him or her are . . .
The lawyer I admire most is Mohandas K. Gandhi, who wrote that the true practice of law consists not of dividing, but bringing people together who have fallen apart. This, I believe, is where law merges with mediation, giving rise to justice.