My guest today is J. Kim Wright, J.D. We met recently in Washington at the gathering of the Network of Spiritual Progressives [NSP]. Welcome to OpEdNews, Kim. You have a rather unconventional take on the law and what lawyers can do to make a difference. Can you tell our readers where this idea came from?
That is a long story with lots of threads. Let me see if I can cut to the chase.
When I began law practice, I wanted to provide the best holistic services to my clients. As I litigated my first custody case, I found that my client and her family were in worse shape after the trial than before. Their conflict had escalated and they couldn't have a civil conversation. Both father and mother felt beaten up by the process. The child was in therapy. That pattern was repeated with every trial. One mother told me that she would give up custody of her children if she ever had to go through another trial. That was how bad it was for her.
I began to experiment and research other options. I found collaborative lawyers, mediators, holistic and peacemaking lawyers and learned about what they were doing and adapted it to my own practice.
In 1999-2000, I collected all I'd learned about the holistic, peacemaking approaches and wrote a web site, then with almost 400 pages of information,www.renaissancelawyer.com and I made a commitment to transforming the legal profession. I was continuously surprised to learn how very many lawyers shared my perspective of the new paradigm of law practice. Each thought that he or she was the only one, that he was alone.
I did a lot of writing and speaking over the next few years and saw the need for something more dynamic than a static site run by a nonprofit organization. In early 2008, I closed my law office and left my home to go on the road to document what I'd come to recognize as a movement. I've since interviewed over 100 lawyers for my web site,www.cuttingedgelaw.com. The site inquires into the question: what if lawyers were peacemakers, problem-solvers and healers of conflicts?
Your quest to transform the practice of law struck a chord among many of your colleagues. That's reassuring to the public, with its generally dismal opinion of the profession. While you were in law school and afterward, you were also building a family. How much did having children of your own contribute to your desire to find a higher purpose for your lawyering?