I must confess that I actually thought of myself as quite brilliant for coining the phrase "holistic attorney." After three or four years of thinking myself to be very special, my friend popped my bubble by letting me know there was a national group called the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers with many members!!. After I contacted the group I learned there are all sorts of emerging types of holistic law practices: therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice, the peacemaker movement to name a few.
Here is an overview of some of these alternative "holistic" law practices:
Restorative Justice. This movement is over 20 years old. It offers an alternative to the criminal justice system by promoting three priorities:
Therapeutic Jurisprudence. Therapeutic Jurisprudence promotes understanding about the impact law has on people's psychology and emotional health, and how the law acts as a social force effecting behaviors and consequences. Proponents of therapeutic jurisprudence see the law as having the potential to be therapeutic. The movement began in the mental health arena, but the principles can be applied to every area of the law. Some courts have begun to make decisions using "TJ" philosophies. The major website for TJ is www.therapeutic jurisprudence.org. To read about how to apply these theories in your practice, read Practicing Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Law as a Helping Profession, edited by Dennis Stolle, David Wexler and Bruce Winick, available on Amazon.com for $35.00.
Peacemaker Movement: Author and lawyer Douglas Noll, writes about this movement in Peacemaking: Practicing at the Intersection of Law and Human Conflict, released in 2004. His theory is that lawyers are the natural peacemakers and yet we don't learn very many models for reaching consensus or agreement in law school. He draws from many disciplines to come up with a comprehensive tool-kit of peacemaking skills. His book is a summary of a growing awareness among lawyers that we need to step up to our role as cultural peace-keepers.
If you are interested in these emerging types of law, I recommend you read Steven Keeva's book, Transformative Practices, published by the American Bar Association. Renaissance Lawyers and the International Alliance of Holistic Professionals groups are the two primary groups catering to transformation in the law. You can find them at www.renaissancelawyer.com and www.iahl.org. These groups serve as umbrella groups for the groundswell of attorneys who believe that the legal system needs to be revamped.
Susan Daicoff is a professor from Florida who has been studying this movement. In a recent speech she gave at the request of the Washington Bar Association, she says that social science studies are now proving that alternative forms of dispute resolution are showing a greater effectiveness rate than traditional legal methods. For example, studies show that if you want to change the behavior of a drug user, that things such as active participation in the sentencing process that involves accountability is very helpful to reduce drug recitivism. Research is showing that "telling ones story," is often ranked as highly important as an outcome, so legal methods that allow a victim to tell his or her story are rated better by participants than situations where they are not given that opportunity.
The developing holistic practices take advantage of the knowledge gained in the social studies arenas. Holistic law is very much about incorporating the lessons learned in other areas of life and merging them into the legal process. As a practitioner, it is an exciting area of law. For the client, you get more comprehensive, targeted solutions that give aid in a way that is most satisfying.
As founder of Renaissance Lawyers, Kim Wright, stated in her WSBA article of February, 2004:
"Within the last few years, there has been an explosion of new approaches to practicing law that offers lawyers alternative tools for dispute resolution. The new approaches focuses on optimizing human well-being by expressly seeking to eliminate brutal and contentious adversarial approaches to advocacy and problem-solving, as well as to avoid legal problems altogether. The new approaches also include humanistic values such as overall well-being, relationships, feelings, needs, resources, meaning, values, and goals."
Stefani Quane • 1100 Dexter Ave North #100 • Seattle,
WA, 98109 • 206/932-9699 • firstname.lastname@example.org