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In an era too often marked by acts of incivility, Robert’s Fund aims to elevate the way we treat one another in the legal profession and to inspire acts of courtesy, kindness, and compassion among members of the profession. Increased civility demonstrably improves outcomes for legal professionals and the people that they serve. And because legal professionals profoundly influence society, even outside their formal work, their behavior often sets the tenor of corporate, political, and social interactions. View information about who we are and what we do

Civility Speaks: Articles & Essays

Resources and media on civility

Robert’s Fund has created a resource bank of abstracts, essays, articles, and other media on civility from thoughtful leaders and eminent thinkers from across the country.

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Civility Center ArticlesCharacteristics of CivilityCosts of Incivility Pillars of CivilityStrategies to Foster CivilityEthics and CivilityAll Articles

 


Friday
Mar202015

Inspired by the Wonder of Poetry

Janet Ellen Raasch, Inspired by the Wonder of Poetry, A.B.A.
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Summary

Can even the most cynical lawyer be softened by poetry?  Yes, according to Janet Ellen Rausch who describes a law firm retreat that incorporated poetry, mosaic building and a significant contribution to a local school library.  School children wrote letter of thanks to the attorneys and the lawyers responded.  This is community in action. 

Dr. Maya Angelou and David Whyte inspired the lawyers at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher with their poetry.  Artist Synthia Saint James contributed with her design for a mosaic that the 800 lawyers constructed together.

William Wegner, a trial partner described the retreat.  “It was an experience that provided something for the spirit and soul of everyone in the firm.” 

Friday
Mar202015

Revenge of the Right Brain

Daniel H. Pink, Revenge of the Right Brain: Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now Comes the Conceptual Age - ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion, Wired, Issue 13.02 (2005)
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Summary

Mr. Pink posits that our economy has shifted from the Information Age, which was based largely on left-brain logic skills, to the Conceptual Age, which requires more right-brain inventive and empathic skills. He explains that “[w]e've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again - to a society of creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. He attributes this shift to Asia, automation, and abundance.

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Friday
Mar202015

Lost in Translation

Lera Boroditsky, Lost in Translation, The Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2010
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Summary

Language impacts our thinking; how we see, understand, and interpret events; and our relationship to time, space, and causality.

That language influences our thinking has been demonstrated in studies of Russian language speakers, indigenous tribes, the Piraha, and Spanish and Japanese language speakers. Because the Russian language has more words for light and dark blues, Russian speakers have greater ability to visually discriminate shades of blue. Because some indigenous tribes use “north, south, east and west” instead of “left” and “right” to indicate direction, members of these tribes have great spatial orientation. Because the Piraha use inexact terms such as “few” and “many” instead of actual numbers to quantify, they are not able to keep track of exact quantities. Because Spanish and Japanese languages don’t have agents of causality of accidents, ("The vase broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase.") they are less able to remember the agent of the accident. In a study comparing cross-linguistic eye-witness memory of Spanish, Japanese, and English speakers, subjects watched videos of people doing something intentionally or accidentally. When asked to recall who did the action, Spanish and Japanese speakers were able to remember the agents of intentional events as well as English speakers because their language would mention the agent of intentional events; however, they were not able to remember the agents of accidental events as well as English speakers.

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Friday
Mar202015

Lose the Box

Steven Keeva, Lose the Box (Sept. 12, 2004, 11:46 AM CST), A.B.A. J.
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Summary

Mr. Keeva explores the loss of creativity in law school. He observes that when law students’ motivations shift from internal to external ones — a well-documented process in the first year of law school — they often lose their creativity at the same time.

The California Western Law School’s focus on solving legal problems is a valuable shift in sustaining the creative juices for law students. Thomas Barton, who teaches creative problem-solving and preventative law at Cal Western, believes our communities require well-solved problems. In addition “doing creative work feels great.”

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Friday
Mar202015

The Mindful Lawyer

Robert Zeglovitch, The Mindful Lawyer, GPSolo Magazine (Oct.-Nov. 2006).
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Summary

Mr. Zeglovitch advocates for lawyers to practice what he calls “mindfulness meditation.” To practice mindfulness meditation, a person must mentally and physically slow down enough to become aware of movement within and around them. Mr. Zeglovitch explains that a mediation practice can benefit lawyers for the following reasons:

  • Stress-related health problems, depression, and substance abuse rates are high for lawyers; meditation is proven to reduce the effects of stress, which can help lawyers.
  • Lawyers measure themselves in terms of success and failure. “Meditation practice has no expectations of outcome; the goal is simply to be….Lawyers can benefit from regularly setting aside a mind consumed by winning and losing.”
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Friday
Mar202015

Lawyers: Leading with Integrity

Stella Rabaut, Lawyers: Leading with Integrity, Washington State Bar Association, (October 2013)
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Summary

Ms. Rabaut suggests that lawyer leadership work begins with inner personal work that helps the legal profession evolve into a more conscious, creative and collaborative practice:

  • Consciousness — undertaking mindfulness exercises helps lawyers feel and perform better, derive and deliver more satisfaction, and relieve suffering in themselves and others.
  • Creativity — viewing law as a healing profession turns adversaries into healers, provocateurs into peacemakers, entrepreneurs into service providers.
  • Collaboration — shifting from an adversarial and competitive stance to one of collaboration and problem-solving for their clients can achieve more satisfying results.

She advocates for lawyers to integrate the rational and logical skills of the head with the reflective, imaginative, and relational skills of the heart. Among the practical behaviors to engender this integration, she suggests that lawyers establish time for reflection, time for pursuing clarity about underlying values, and time for constantly reassessing their actions and deeper purpose.

Friday
Mar202015

Putting Relaxation Back Into Firm Retreats: Loosening Up the Lawyer Mind

Janet Ellen Raasch, Putting Relaxation Back Into Firm Retreats: Loosening Up the Lawyer Mind, 32 Law Prac. (Jan.-Feb. 2006).
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Summary

Ms. Raasch writes that progressive law firms are making their annual retreats more engaging and productive through creative use of relaxation. Techniques have included a wide range, from talent shows and spas to paintball and horse whispering. Play and leisure can foster collaboration, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Patrick McKenna, explains that the most successful firm retreats have one or more of the following five principal goals: To develop a consensus among the firm members; to create a strategic plan; to conduct internal business; to provide skills training; and/or “to create an opportunity for lawyers to get to know one another in a relaxed setting.”

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Friday
Mar202015

Law Prof Teaches Meditation Techniques for Lawyers

Leslie A. Gordon, Law Prof Teaches Meditation Techniques for Lawyers, A.B.A. J. (Feb. 1, 2014)
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Summary

Professor Charles Halpern is currently a scholar in residence at University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall and director of the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law. He is a pioneer in the contemplative law movement, having led meditation retreats for law professors and law students in the 1990’s for Yale Law School. He currently teaches a course on effective and sustainable law practice at Boalt Hall and offers retreats for legal professionals in Marin County, California. 

Prof. Halpern explains that through a regular practice of reflection and meditation, lawyers learn

“a cluster of emotional intelligence skills that are undervalued in legal practice and education.”

In addition, such practices enhance “listening skills, improve…focused attention in complex situations and enable…attorneys to make empathetic connections with others.”

Friday
Mar202015

Seeking Serenity: When Lawyers Go Zen

Amanda Enayati, Seeking Serenity: When Lawyers Go Zen (May 2011)
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Summary

Ms. Enayati states that meditation not only can help lawyers avoid the propensity for depression, substance abuse, and dissatisfaction, but more importantly, it also helps lawyers be more effective and is influencing the practice. She explains that mindfulness practice for lawyers is becoming much more common, along with mindfulness-related law-school courses, retreats, workshops and CLEs. Notably, Justice Stephen Breyer sits quietly for 10-15 minutes, twice a day, thinking about nothing or as little as possible. Although he doesn’t call it “meditation,” he says it makes him “more peaceful, focused and better able to do [his] work.” Beyond stress management, mindfulness practice helps lawyers be more focused, more active listeners, better at helping clients, and better at serving justice. Mindfulness practice is also contributing to innovations in the law. These include collaborative law in family practice, which emphasizes trouble-shooting and problem-solving in divorces, rather than a fight to win, and restorative justice in criminal law, which focuses on reconciliation, restoration, healing, and rehabilitation. Overall, there is a movement towards the emergence of law as a healing profession and lawyers as peacemakers.

Friday
Mar202015

Lecture Notes on Civility in the Legal Profession

Paula Lustbader, Lecture Notes on Civility in the Legal Profession, ROBERT’S FUND (2012)
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