Being a lawyer and having a spiritual practice, be it meditation, yoga or some form of prayer, alongside our work is hugely worthwhile and is becoming more common. Being a lawyer and allowing that spiritual practice to infuse and transform our work in law is altogether more powerful but it is still relatively rare. Though we may not yet be able to see the stairs, this magazine is here to support and encourage those of us that feel willing to take that next courageous step.
Whether it’s the experience of peace and stillness we feel in meditation, the sense of devotional love that swells our heart in a sacred chant, or the overwhelming awareness of interconnectedness and community in collective prayer or activism – it is possible to allow these moments to affect and influence us deeply enough as lawyers that we go beyond tolerating the status quo. We can uproot embedded features of our legal landscape like excessive adversarial tactics in the courtroom, stressful materialism in the office and boardroom, competitive striving and superficial professional speak, not to mention the hugely distorted focus on corporations, the wealthy and the privileged to the detriment of the most vulnerable and marginalized amongst us. We can strive for another way to ‘be’ in the legal community that is more in alignment with the truer experience of one connected human family we know is possible. Whatever area of law we are in – contract, corporate, criminal, environmental, family, property, probate, social justice or otherwise – there are possibilities of practicing with more compassion, more awareness and more love.
On this path, mentorship, community and support are essential. In our usual workplaces – law firm offices or law school lecture halls – these are often lacking, and it can be easy to become disillusioned or to give up on our ideals. This is why the work of organisations like The Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law, and Politics (PISLAP) is so important and valuable. Many of its members are experienced, long-standing, senior and respected members of the legal community in the U.S. – and increasingly around the world – that are not afraid to talk confidently and publicly about spirituality and love in the context of law. And they do so in a grounded, accessible and practical way, and in a variety of different practice areas. Whether it has been joining one of their monthly conference calls, reading their members’ books and articles or just connecting in conversation, I have personally felt very supported and encouraged by the PISLAP network and feel much gratitude for the dedicated work that they continue to do.
Along with my co-editor, Peter Gabel – a founder of PISLAP and a true visionary for a spiritually-informed approach to law – I am delighted then to welcome you to this collaborative issue of The Conscious Lawyer with PISLAP, an issue I can honestly say is the best yet. Please feel a sense of solidarity and community here, and take inspiration from our contributors many of whom are either long-standing or more recent members of PISLAP, and all of whose ideals and work is aligned with PISLAP’s mission and values. This issue was planned around a theme of “….inspiring hope in these turbulent times” prior to the unprecedented crises of 2020. Following this year’s global health crisis, and the massive uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement following the tragic murder of George Floyd, the times are more turbulent than ever and we need all the hope and inspiration we can muster. Whether it is uplifting news of recent legal developments and initiatives; thought-provoking and innovative ideas and writing; striking artworks and images; quirky but impactful cartoons or the expression of feelings through poetry, we hope that you will find that inspiration here, and that your spark of idealism will continue to fan into flame.