On Sunday 7 July, on a borrowed old bicycle, I had to pinch myself that I wasn’t dreaming as I rode along the winding streets and sunlight dappled canals of Amsterdam to a very special gathering of awakened lawyers from 6 continents. We were gathering to plant the seeds for a new Global Alliance of Integrative Lawyers as a result of some chance encounters, Skype calls and synchronistic meeting ups that took place in the last 6 weeks.
I count myself extremely privileged to have been part of such a profound day. From the moment we started to arrive, the intensity of our shared intention to bring about healing in the legal profession was palpable. In a somewhat audacious move, I found myself being the representative of Africa’s role in the Integrative Law Movement, as the Director of the Centre for Integrative Law in South Africa.
Representing the US was Kim Wright, author of the ABA highly acclaimed book Lawyers as Peacemakers. Kim is currently on a European tour gathering momentum for the Integrative Law Movement in Europe. You can read more about Kim on www.cuttingedgelaw.com.
From Europe there was Tiffany Stephens from Scotland, currently a non-practising lawyer, focusing on personal development and healing as her main career. But since the gathering, is looking at how to bring all she has learned back to the legal profession. http://about.me/stephenstiffany
Eline Van Veenendal kindly hosted us in her office in a beautiful part of Amsterdam around the corner from the Rijks Museum. Eline practised in transnational commercial law before moving into a management consultancy role for several law firms. She is a professional co-active coach and specialist in Deep Democracy and Group Emotional Intelligence. www.elinevanveenendaal.nl
Femke Wijdekop, from Amsterdam, studied public law and then worked for a few years as a researcher in Constitutional & International Law. She is passionate about Earth Law and the possibility of making Ecocide the 5th Crime Against Peace. Femke uses her skills as a writer, researcher and interviewer to give voice to legal issues and the growing Integrative Law Movement.
Digna de Bruin, also from Amsterdam worked in a large firm for nearly 20 years. As a result of several things including becoming a mother and then having a serious accident which took her significant time to heal and led her to yoga, prompted a move to opening her own law practice where she could be totally herself. She writes that she feels “a strong pull towards defending the trees, the earth and animals and also people who are being ‘sandwiched’ by institutions”. www.debruinadvocatuur.nl
Anna van der Leeuw, from Russia but now living in Holland, has moved from many years in legal practice to a career in healing. Since our gathering she is now also considering how to integrate her legal training with her healing work.
Representing South America, (and present via Skype) was Tânia Motta Nogueira Reis, a holistic lawyer, writer of 4 books, motivational speaker (English, Spanish & Portuguese) and a business management consultant on human values and founder of MONGA – a non profit organization on women studies against domestic violence, developing and bringing peace at home, since 2002 (www.monga.com.br), counselor of UNIPEACE – Holistic University for Peace.
Representing Asia (to her great surprise!) was Nitya Bansal from India. Nitya did a Master of Laws at the National University of Singapore in the year 2011-2012. Currently she is working towards setting up her own practice in Delhi. Her interests are more in mediation and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Cate Banks from Brisbane, representing Australasia at our gathering, is a committed collaborative and mindfulness practitioner who believes building interdisciplinary relationships with other related professionals is an important means of providing a service that is in the client’s best interest. Dr Cate Banks is Co Managing Director for the Centre for Integrative Law (Australia) and Director and Principal of BUILDING BRIDGES – Centre for Community and Dispute Resolution. Cate is an experienced and highly committed alternative dispute resolution practitioner who has conducted thousands of mediations in a wide range of personal, family, workplace, and community settings. http://www.catebanksconsulting.com.au/
Cheryl Conner, from the US was present via Skype. Cheryl is a lawyer, economist, composer, keyboardist and healer. A former Asst. U.S. Attorney and Asst. Atty. General, she was one of the way-showers for the holistic law movement in the mid-90s, sharing meditation and reflective education with lawyers, judges and law students, some funded by the Fetzer Institute. She founded Lawyers with a Holistic Perspective, co-founded The New Law Center, was on the founding Board of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers and was named the first Legal Rebel by the American Bar Association Journal.
It was a day of deep connection and the beginning of work which will spread around the world, the ramifications of which we cannot yet know. On the practical side, plans were laid inter alia* to create a Linked-in/ FB/ virtual notice board and to work on a group Oath or Mission & Vision Statement for the Integrative Law Movement. But for me the most powerful aspect was sensing the energy generated from gathering 11 people in one place (4 were present virtually) who so thoroughly embody the notion of lawyers being peacemakers and healers. Each of us, as you would see from the more extensive biographies of the participants I hope to feature on www.integrativelaw.co.za , has moved from a career in law to one of healing, and some of us have found ways to integrate the two. It was a truly integrative meeting of left brain and right brain, of law and love, of being and doing.
It sounds a bit “rainbows and unicorns” (my new expression for the more “out there” aspects of the current world shift) but as each of us spoke aloud our vision for a new legal system, it felt like the beginning of something enormous. I was reminded of the Steve Jobs quote “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, usually do”.
Here’s to the Global Alliance of Integrative Lawyers!
*sometimes I feel the need to throw in the odd bit of legalese to offset the more New-Agey aspects of my writing