It has been a tough year and a half. I hope you are hanging in there and beginning to see some light at the end of this dark tunnel. Change, once an idea we considered and eased into, burst into our lives as a demand, not a choice.
As we’ve been locked down or isolated, Zoom brought us something unexpected: a view into the lives of our colleagues – and they have been in our homes as well. The professional façade that many tried to keep as a way of distancing themselves, dissolved as our dogs, cats, children, neighbors, delivery drivers, and real life joined us for our meetings. Such authenticity, shocking at first, allowed us to breathe in ways we don’t want to give up in our new normal.
We came to appreciate spending time with our loved ones and people who share our values. Meanwhile, political divisions and injustices that could no longer be ignored or denied have stirred up passions and highlighted a need for the kind of work we have been doing for years.
The year 2020 gave us all an opportunity to review and assess what we want in life. The rate of quitting jobs is at a record high.
“We all will have various times in our life where we’ll stop and say, ‘Whoa — am I going in the right direction? Is this the right occupation for me? Should I do something differently?’” says Betsey Stevenson. “But I can’t think of any other time when it’s been a correlated shock across the entire country, where we’ve all been faced — no, forced — to ask questions.” Betsey Stevenson was chief economist of the US Department of Labor and later a member of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Now she’s a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/18/opinion/ezra-klein-podcast-betsey-stevenson.html
Traveling in person wasn’t possible so like everyone else, I went to Zoom. As I started collaborating with even more people during the past year, ideas came flooding in. As possibilities and opportunities expanded, it became very clear that my style of being the overworked mom and just doing what needed to be done wasn’t serving the movement. Limited in what I could do by having just 24 hours in each day, I had become a bottleneck. Auspicious projects sometimes didn’t happen because I didn’t have the time to get them done. Connections were missed. I worked around the clock and could never get it done. I was in the way of advancing integrative law.
Admitting to myself that I needed help, I started giving some projects away to others. At first, I thought I was imposing on them, it felt like they were just doing me a favor, but I soon discovered they were delighted to take them on. The projects often aligned with something they were trying to accomplish and supported them in moving their own missions forward. Light bulb! (Duh) Giving away projects meant more could get done!
As perspectives shifted, I began to think that our time has come: the world needs what Integrative Lawyers have to offer and seems more open to exploring, adopting, and embracing new ways of designing the legal system. We’ve been practicing this way for years, learning by trial and error. We are the ones to bring it to them, as a community, as many hearts, minds, and hands together. And I believe the community is waiting for such opportunities.
Over the last few months, a lot of ideas have been developing and a lot of actions have already been taken to lay a foundation for what is next. I have been working on an Integrative Law Movement website, separate from CuttingEdgeLaw.com, where everyone will be able to connect and the world will be able to find integrative lawyers. I’ve long been the “human rolodex” who keeps all the names in my head but I’m working on inputting those into a mail program and directory.
It is time for us to be in the news, to connect with those who long for a different way but think they are alone. Our perfect clients are out there but many don’t know we exist – yet. We need to be visible – open and notorious! We’ve been populating our existing social media accounts and creating another one. Six of our colleagues have been interviewed and we’re about to launch an Integrative Lawyers of the World blog and social media campaign, highlighting the breadth of our movement in both geography and diversity. We’re collaborating with The Conscious Lawyer Magazine about a dedicated Integrative Law issue. Part of the plan is to create a speakers bureau and a writing team for getting the word out.
On July 22-24 (depending on your time zone), we are holding a gathering for the Integrative Law Community – the Facebook group and those who are members of the community but not on Facebook. In October, we hope to invite the broader community. This one is for us as a community and will lay a foundation for what we do in October.
You may have already seen the Save the Date and invitation and can find the tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-integrative-law-global-gathering-tickets-158846109991
We have juggled the calendar to include time zones that cover the world, no small feat! We will have a 5-hour content-based session that repeats 12 hours later. As content: we have two welcome sessions, two chances to practice Laughter Yoga, and two serious discussions about trauma in the legal profession. There are two sessions for working on your personal visions and two sessions where I will share more details about my vision and invite you to take on something that will inspire, delight, energize, and advance your vision. You choose the sessions that work for you, based on your time zone and schedule.
For the rest of the conference, local hosts will cover their time zones while the rest of us sleep. Sessions are divided between Inhale/Exhale sessions where we can spend time getting to know each other, sharing our projects, hanging out together, and participating in structured conversations. (We’ve come up with a pretty cool structure to reduce Zoom fatigue and generate meaningful connections).
Here is a link to a full schedule where you can find your time zone and the schedule of events. (You might find it useful to download it and hide all the other time zones if your technical expertise matches that instruction.)
The event is a fund-raiser. I’m currently the primary sponsor of the movement, spending about $1,000 a month to cover expenses that are allocated to the movement, and I hope that the community will embrace the vision, add to it, and step up to share in those expenses. We are working on a financial transparency program through Open Collective (as soon as our fiscal sponsor approves it.) I bought a ticket like everyone else.
We are also cognizant of the financial disparity of our global community. We ask that everyone pay what they can afford. We trust you to be authentic in choosing what level is appropriate. If you want to give more, feel free to buy multiple tickets and send us a note to let us know.
Our conference committee (which includes me, Jacqueline Horani of Legally Unconventional and Bonnie Silvestri) have been meeting weekly and refining the conference outline. We’re finalizing it this week so watch for more details.
In the meantime, mark your calendar. Go to the Eventbrite link and register! Come be part of taking the Integrative Law Movement to the next level, of enhancing what we all do.