Mindfulness continues to enter the legal profession through many doors. Earlier this school year, I told you about the U of Miami School of Law's eight-week program on contemplative practices. The Florida Bar News just published an article about that program. From "Mindfulness program aims to help law students live in the moment":
That’s one reason the University of Miami has decided to introduce law students to contemplative practices that provide tools for enhancing students’ effectiveness at school, their well-being, and — hopefully — their success and fulfillment in the practice of law, according to Scott Rogers, a University of Florida trained lawyer who also holds a master’s degree in social psychology.
Rogers said UM is not alone in integrating contemplative practices into their curriculums. Charles Halpern at Boalt Hall at Berkeley and Professor Leonard Riskin at UF are also part of the growing, national trend of teaching mindfulness at law schools. Major corporations like Google have also instituted mindfulness programs for their employees.
Next semester, University of Miami Law will be offering a course entitled "Professional Responsibility & Mindfulness in the Digital Age" taught by Rogers and Jan Jacobowitz. The course description (found here):
The Impact of New Media on Lawyer Conduct: Mindfulness and Professional Responsibility in the Digital Age
A Judge's decision upsets a lawyer and he vents his frustration by blogging and characterizing the Judge as "an evil witch" on a Halloween posting. A young attorney excited about her practice
discusses some of her cases on Facebook. A lawyer serving as a juror blogs about the trial. All of these lawyers are enjoying the new media and all are being prosecuted for violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility. New technologies provide the legal profession with opportunities for networking, advertising, researching, and client development. They also are becoming familiar ground for personal expression. The global and instantaneous reach of New Media coupled with its perpetual presence, results in a limited and unforgiving learning curve; The Code of Professional Responsibility continues to govern. Mistakes occur frequently due to distraction, unfamiliarity and haste, and poorly thought out actions and can leave lasting scars on the otherwise unblemished reputation of lawyers (and law students). Even deliberate tactics can backfire as unforeseen consequences arise. Anyone can find themselves a "test case" if they traipse into this territory without caution and awareness. The applicability of the rules of professional responsibility continues to develop as the digital media comes of age. This course uses cutting-edge fact patterns and legal decisions involving lawyer misconduct and new media to expose students to the realities of professional missteps that can follow from seemingly innocuous activities. Contemplative practices, such as mindfulness, are incorporated to offer students growing insight into what motivates them to act, and to practice developing, and wisely using, the mental brakes needed to slow down and introduce greater deliberation into decision-making. The neuroscience associated with focus, distraction, and morality is discussed to offer students a penetrating examination of the inner-workings at play. Core professional responsibility concerns including confidentiality, professionalism, communication, and advertising will serve as the backdrop for this instruction, which will be introduced through lecture, role-playing, and dialogue.
In this post, I will mention just one more lawyer mindfulness event. It was a sold-out CLE program offered last year by the Multnomah Bar Association, from which you can still purchase the written materials and tapes or CD ROM. From a description of the seminar "Taking Care of Ourselves While We’re Busy Taking Care of Others: Stress-Reduction for Professionals in Conflict Resolution":
This unique seminar is devoted to improving the way we handle stress, strengthening mental clarity and enhancing productivity. Designed especially for lawyers, judges, mediators and forensic mental health professionals who work under enormous pressure, the instructors will concentrate on the effectiveness of mindfulness training – the cultivation of moment-tomoment awareness to combat stress. At the end of the day you will know:
-The basic technique of mindfulness training
-The scientific studies regarding mindfulness training
-The effects of stress on mind and body
-How to relieve stress through mindfulness training
-How to thrive in the demanding field of conflict resolution
More here, including how to order the materials. (Scroll down to Friday, October 31, 2008.)
That's it for today but rest assured that I will continue to let you know about similar events as I hear of them. And don't forget these resources: http://www.contemplativelawyers.com.