Mindfulness for Law Study & Lawyering

The following contains an excerpt from Leonard L. Riskin, The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Contributions of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students, Lawyers, and their Clients (View Article).

It seems likely that the outcomes of mindfulness can help improve or enrich a law student or lawyer’s performance on virtually any task, from learning and manipulating rules, to drafting documents and litigating cases. In addition,…mindfulness sometimes deepens and clarifies a person’s awareness.

Jerry Conover, of counsel to Faegre and Benson in Denver, says that it affects his overall state of mind, giving him a “balancing and bottoming perspective that is unshakeable.”

Steven Schwartz, head of a public interest disability law firm based in Northampton, Massachusetts, says that it helps him think creatively. Sometimes when he is meditating, without trying for anything, solutions to practical problems in the office occur to him; on some days, the outline of an entire brief will come to him, and, he says, “[it] is sublimely, precisely correct.” In addition, the practice helps him connect with his feelings of compassion for his clients, “it is singularly why,” Schwartz says, “I’ve been able to do the same work for twenty-seven years without being overwhelmed by the pain and my feelings for these devalued people.” It has also deepened his understanding of the motives of people involved in his cases and keeps him motivated for “the long haul.”

The peaceful presence of a lawyer who practices mindfulness meditation is likely to affect the client, too.

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