Most people see the legal arena as a place to do battle, a place where we annihilate the person we see as our opponent. We seek an attorney to be our warrior to win the legal battle for us. What if there was another way? What if attorneys took a different approach, one where they would still be an advocate and champion the cause of their client, but without a long drawn-out battle and attempts at mutual annihilation? What might be possible if attorneys shifted to a heart-centered approach to their law practice?
Welcome to “The Lawyer as Peacemaker,” Episode #99 of Co-creating Peace, a series about conscious communication and conflict transformation. Eric Sirotkin, an attorney for over 40 years, with a law practice in Santa Fe, NM, joins me to talk about creative skill-sets for the 21st century lawyer, moving the role of a lawyer from warrior to a partner for peace in the just resolution of disputes.
Highlights of our conversation include:
- Recognition of how we are all connected, how the harm we do to others is harm to ourselves, and how remembering Ubuntu can help us transcend the desire for retaliation
- Exploring the importance of attorneys shifting to a more heart-centered, healing, (Ubuntu) way of practicing law and how they can begin to make that shift
- Discussion of how mediation, restorative justice, and transitional justice empower people to find peaceful resolution, even after traumatic events
- Looking at integrative and collaborative law and how they differ from standard practices of law
- Some of the things that Eric learned from Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Eric Sirotkin’s work around the world, including with Archbishop Tutu, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and restorative justice processes has led him on a mission to reframe the law by retraining lawyers on Creative Tools to expand their skillset and humanize their profession. He teaches techniques to survive and thrive in the “us v. them” world of law, helping lawyers gain an understanding of the nature of human relationships that will give them an edge in litigation, legal counseling, and resolving conflict. He is the author of Witness: A lawyer’s journey from litigation to liberation.
By sharing successful alternative and indigenous models he helps lawyers use such skills in their everyday practice while weaving in a new slant on legal ethics reflective of a healing profession, that repatterns what it means to provide honest advice and confront moral dilemmas within a case.
To register for one of Eric’s classes Tools for Creative Lawyering or learn more about The Ubuntuworks Project, visit www.ubuntuworksschool.org. To learn more about Eric and his work as an attorney, visit ericsirotkin.com.
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