I was recently asked to give advice to soon-to-be graduates of the William and Mary Law School.
I shared with them the following, which forms the foundation for my practice and the principles of how I do business:
The advice I have for new attorneys is to consider the big picture and think holistically. How do you want the work you do to influence the world? What do you want your role in your clients lives to be? With the scope of options for dispute resolution growing, we can aid and speed up the paradigm shift by finding a more humanistic way of working with people whose legal issues arise out of fractured human relationships. It is our responsibility to stop and consider how our actions affect not only our clients, but the other side, the family as a whole, and the community. Most of us were driven toward the legal profession by an intrinsic drive, further honed and cultivated by traditional law school teachings, to play the role of “warrior” for our client. Being a one dimensional warrior is why I believe lawyers can often quite unintentionally cause serious harm to human relationships at the same time that they win legal victories for their clients. We unwittingly become tools in our client’s arsenals of mutual destruction. Instead, I challenge each of you to consider looking beyond this role and instead focus on being “healers of controversy”. There are better and healthier ways for conflict resolution. So as you move forward and enter the legal community, I urge you all to look to the future and work beyond the traditional court battle framework to cultivate a mindful practice which reduces conflict, holistically addresses client’s and families needs, opens the channels of communication, and fosters mutual dignity and respect. In closing, I am enclosing a link to the video of a talk entitled “The Children’s Fire”, which I invite you to watch. Regardless of what arena of the law you choose to enter– private practice, working for a large firm, serving a government agency, etc.– the principles outlined in the video are invaluable to foster and carry forward into all you do.