Many of us chose to be lawyers because we want the world to be “fair” and we want to be treated “fairly.” As members of the legal profession, we seek justice, not only in our personal and professional lives and in our interaction with others, but also in the very work we do.
However, the sheer velocity of life often takes us off our path of seeking justice. We get swept away in a current of overloaded calendars and back-to-back meetings or hearings (and that is just at work). As a result of this frenetic pace, we develop blind spots, repeat mistakes, miss opportunities, and are overall less effective at being the lawyers we dreamed of becoming and the ones our community and our society deserve us to be.
As noted by Scott Rogers in his article “Mindfulness and Civility,” “A little mindfulness can generate a shift from agitation to compassion and clarity, which can be a great benefit without losing your edge.” If we are agitated, irritated, or even excited, our intelligence and effectiveness can be dimmed. While our emotions can give us power and energy, they also affect our lucidity and can cause extraordinary and recurrent failures of insight. Mindfulness can help us expand our set of tools and approaches to see conflict resolution (and justice) effectively, productively, and sustainably.
In the whirlwind that is our lives, we often are tempted to do several things at once—read as we eat, make a call as we walk, think of something while we are doing something else. This means we are totally absent from what we are doing, and that is the opposite of mindfulness. Let us free our actions and give them justice, allowing them to be “just” what they are—just eating (without reading or doing something else), just walking (without making a call or planning ahead), or just listening (without formulating a response or judging what is being said). Pick one activity and focus just on doing that one activity on a regular basis—at least once a week, and see if you don’t find your way back to your original path of seeking justice.