I was hungry for connection with like-minded practitioners, because I wanted to share my ideas and learn from others, so I began to seek out interesting conferences and events. In the first decade of the 2000s, I attended events on many topics: holistic law; peacemaking; humanizing legal education; collaborative law; restorative justice; mediation; diversity and inclusion; therapeutic jurisprudence; creative problem-solving; sacred activism; coaching; appreciative inquiry; and more. I saw commonalities in the content of all the conferences, also noticing that others were unaware that they were talking about the same topics with different frames. They were focused on their own niches, not the broader picture. It felt to me like something was happening on a systemic level, something not yet visible to everyone.
My work soon evolved beyond a local law practice to calling attention to the broader systems change that I was seeing. I adopted a model articulated by the Berkana Institute as the Two Loops approach. Berkana’s model recognizes that systems change, that they rise and fall as values shift. Their model posits that as a dominant system reaches its peak and begins to decline, some members of the system begin to innovate, leave the old system, and create new ways. At first, these pioneers are alone, often struggling with ideas that run counter to the mainstream. Left to their own devices, they may give up. However, if they are connected, supported, and their work is illuminated, there is a chance that they will be the seeds of a new system that is more closely aligned with the prevailing values.
In 2007 I went to so many conferences that my travel was interfering with my ability to earn enough money. A reasonable person might have stopped traveling. Instead, I got rid of the mortgage and became a digital nomad. (At the beginning, there was no such term.)
Starting my peripatetic time, I thought I was making a documentary about a transformation in law. My videographer and I interviewed dozens of lawyers who were thinking about law differently – and creating their own niche practices from their new ideas. These were creative models that often grew from the personalities of the innovator. A new platform had just launched – YouTube – and the dial-up was giving way to faster internet so it was possible to share our videos. I created the Cutting-Edge Law YouTube channel as a place to share the interviews of these pioneers and changemakers.
In 2009, the American Bar Association publications department found the channel and called me: “We knew law was going in this direction; we just didn’t know it had gotten so far,” the editor said to me. “Will you write a book about this movement?” That year I was named as a Legal Rebel, an ABA designation for visionaries, and my first book, Lawyers as Peacemakers, Practicing Holistic Problem-Solving Law, was released in April 2010. It was an immediate ABA bestseller.
I often say that the publication of the book was the day I went from just being weird to mainstream.
At first, I believed it was just a U.S. movement, though a broad one. In 2011, a group of 30 leaders of different models gathered in Colorado and named the movement, Integrative Law. Later that year, I got my first international invitation, to Australia. South Africa came in 2012. And Europe the next year. India and South America came later. The internet-based community grew. Lawyers as Changemakers, The Global Integrative Law Movement was published by the ABA in 2016.
After leaving my house and practice in 2008, for the next 15 years, I traveled around the world, seeking out the pioneers, connecting them to each other, providing support and encouragement. I wrote to be seen, to be found, and to show others what was possible.
To earn a living, I was a keynote speaker, trainer, adjunct professor, consultant, and coach. I was the advocate for following your bliss and many lawyers chose to do so. I became the expert at designing life and law practices that aligned with the mission, vision, and values of the lawyer.