An integrative law special
Episode 35 6 September 2021
An introduction to integrative law
The New Earth lawyer podcast features lawyers who are changing the practice of law to change the world.
Throughout my podcast, I have interviewed many lawyers who are part of what is known as the integrative law movement.
What is the integrative law movement? It's a global movement of lawyers who are motivated to change the world for the better. In this video, I'll explain integrative law in more detail, how it came about, and where you can find integrative lawyers.
J Kim Wright
For over 2 decades, J Kim Wright has been an advocate for systems change in the law. She particularly focuses on a set of values and models called Integrative Law. From the early 2000s, she has attended dozens of events and conferences and studied a number of innovative legal practices. Thirteen years ago, to focus on her mission she gave up her house and law practice and went on the road. She has built relationships and communities on six continents. Kim has been named by the American Bar Association as a Legal Rebel and has written two bestselling books published by the ABA: Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law and Lawyers as Changemakers: The Global Integrative Law Movement. She is a coach and consultant, a leader in Conscious Contracts®, a speaker and trainer, a lawyer and mediator, and a specialist in systems change. As an author she has another 2 books due to be published soon: Trauma-Informed Law: A Primer for Lawyers and Lawyers as Designers. She is an educator and adjunct professor and a connector for lawyers all over the world who are changing the paradigm of legal practice.
Chamundai Curran is the owner of The Laughter Lawyer, a training organisation for wellness, personal effectiveness, relationship building, conflict resolution and coaching and mentoring programs. She was a lawyer for 25 years and always felt called to help others and to serve - and initially helped others as a family lawyer. After many years, Chamundai felt called to help in a different way - eventually being a traditional lawyer was no longer a "fit". She has spent more than 30 years immersed in Indian spiritual traditions (gaining the name Chamundai, given by her spiritual teacher, which means strength, courage and dispelling darkness). Chamundai now coaches and mentors lawyers and professionals who are interested in spirituality, feel called to look more deeply into life, their purpose, and who seek to be of service to humanity using their unique gifts and talents.
Geraldine Johns-Putra is an experienced corporate lawyer, using the law to build purposeful, human-centred, Earth-friendly legal enterprises & ecosystems, for happier humans and a better planet. She is the founder and host of the New Earth lawyer podcast. She is based in Melbourne, Australia, and is an expert in enterprise governance, purpose, business & human rights and modern slavery. She established her own law practice Geraldine Grace in 2020, focussing on enterprises seeking purpose, and actors in the impact economy. She is a legal advisor to not-for-profits with a national reach in impact and purpose. She works with Boards to optimise performance and help enterprises embed purpose and integrate human rights into their business. She has over 20 years' experience practising law in Australia, the UK, Hong Kong and mainland China, has worked for large global and Australian law firms, and was a partner of a top-tier Australian law firm for several years. She sits on the peak governing body of Australia's largest university.
Patrick Andrews is a lawyer and facilitator. He is the founder of Barefoot Lawyer. A barefoot lawyer, says Patrick, is someone who makes law accessible, who meets people where they are and who is connected to the earth. All of these are important in his practice. He is also co-founder of Human Organising Co ,a collaborative venture of five individuals, following a path to find more meaning and life in work. Coming from diverse backgrounds - law, healthcare, theatre, inter-cultural collaboration - they are committed to helping others uncover the deeper humanity that often lies dormant in an organisation.
Idara E. Bassey is an expert on lawyer well-being. She has been a personal advisor to corporate professionals from various industries and been retained by legal professionals nationwide on matters of executive performance, personal growth, values alignment, stress reduction and wellness since 2002. She has a J.D. and an LL.M in Public International Law from the University of Georgia School of Law where she was named a Ford Foundation Fellow. She also has a Doctoral Degree in Metaphysical Counseling from the University of Sedona. She is also author of the award-winning essay collection "Reflections of a Mystical Sistah" along with serving as a Contributing Writer to the best-selling American Bar Association book, “Lawyers as Changemakers”. She has an upcoming book When “Thinking Like a Lawyer” Fails: Rewriting the Rules for Your Lawyer Life scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2022
Marguerite Picard is a director of MELCA, which is a one-stop-collaborative-divorce-shop. MELCA is a thought leader in all things divorce and interdisciplinary practice. MELCA's documentary ‘Family is Family’ in which a number of wise souls speak about the many benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to divorce, sums up her approach. MELCA has won many awards and accolades and as of 2021 has offices in Brisbane and Sydney in addition to its Melbourne office. Marguerite co-wrote, "Breaking Up Without Breaking Down", which talks about how a constructive approach to divorce pays dividends for everyone in a family. The central message of the book is about choosing your advisors wisely from the get-go, to avoid deepening conflict. It’s now in its third reprinting. Marguerite's second business is Smart Separation. It was set up to give people a ‘diagnosis’, an action plan, referrals and some of the wisdom of my long years in practice. It is backed by the Smart Circle, her trusted network of professional associates built up through her legal lifetime. Marguerite is also an Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer, Collaborative Practitioner, Mediator, Arbitrator and Collaborative Trainer. Before focussing on family law some 20 years ago, she worked in criminal law, property and commercial, and wills and estates.
Kelly McGrath, Esq., is the owner of Kelly McGrath Law, PLLC, a non-litigation law firm focusing on business and family law mediations, restorative justice cases, and collaborative divorce. Kelly founded the Florida Restorative Justice Association in 2013, a state-wide advocacy group supporting the use of restorative justice in Florida. Kelly has a professional certificate in trauma and resilience and considers herself a trauma-responsive lawyer. A large part of her practice includes consulting and training on strategic communication skills, conflict resolution, and grief, loss, and burnout in lawyers. Kelly is a frequent speaker at the Quinnipiac University College of Law presenting on the use of Nonviolent Communication in her practice. Kelly is also the owner of Life After All™, a 3-month program supporting post-divorce or widowed women built around a faculty of professionals who provide one-on-one guidance for can healing, renewal, growth, and rebuilding; becoming the person they need to be for the next phase of their lives. The nationwide program includes a grief and loss counselor, a personal trainer, an estate planning attorney, and financial advisor along with lots of interaction and community, laughter, tears, and growth.
Peter Lustig has been a lawyer for over four decades. In that time, he says he has transitioned from being a head-kicking adversarial gun for hire, towards the more human approach of helping people understand why conflict is in their lives and what it is there to teach them. He specialises in family law, estate planning and disputes, employment law, construction, insolvency and shareholder disputes and commercial rental disputes. Peter has also been involved in personal growth and particularly, men’s work for decades. He is the immediate past chair of the not-for-profit ManKind Project Australia Ltd; a charity which runs adult male rite of passage programs to assist men to become authentic and be the men they were always born to be.
[0:46] Kim Wright relates how the integrative law movement came about.
[2:28] Integrative lawyers are reflective. Chamundai Curran tells us about how she began reflecting on how her clients were unhappy even when they won their court cases.
[4:09] Integrative lawyers are values and purpose-based. Geraldine Johns-Putra explains how she found her purpose, by identifying her passion.
[5:39] Integrative lawyers are systems and design thinkers. Patrick Andrews began searching for the way to design a better system, as he pondered on why good people become collectively irresponsible and uncaring within the larger system.
[6:34] Integrative lawyers are harbingers of evolutionary consciousness. Idara Bassey enlightens us on her doctorate in metaphysics when she studied the collective energy that manifests in corporations.
[8:40] Integrative lawyers can be found in family law - an example is Marguerite Picard who reflects on how lawyers need to understand their own conflict style and how they might contribute to conflict in interpersonal disputes.
[10:16] Criminal law is another place where integrative lawyers can contribute. Kelly McGrath demonstrates the transformative power of restorative justice works through the story of a murder case with an unexpected outcome.
[12:56] In business law, corporations are undergoing change and integrative lawyers are at the forefront of new structures, as Patrick Andrews exemplifies.
[14:55] Integrative lawyers bring a different approach to legal disputes, often being able to help find resolutions, not just settlements for clients in conflict. Peter Lustig shows us how.
[16:28] Finally, Kim Wright explains how Conscious Contracts® work, by stepping us through the components of this relational values-based method to more effective contracting.
The Integrative Law movement website: integrativelaw.com
Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law, by J Kim Wright
Lawyers as Changemakers: The Global Integrative Law Movement, by J Kim Wright
The lawyers featured in this special episode:
J Kim Wright, jkimwright.com
Chamundai Curran, laughterlawyer.com.au
Geraldine Johns-Putra, geraldinegrace.com.au
Patrick Andrews, barefoot lawyer.uk
Idara Bassey, ieblegalwellness.com
Marguerite Picard, MELCA: melca.com.au
Kelly McGrath, kellymcgrathlaw.com
Peter Lustig, peterslustig.net
Episodes sampled in this special episode:
Episode 1 with J Kim Wright, Now is the time to design the new legal system
Episode 27 with Chamundai Curran, Laughter is the best remedy
Episode 2 by Geraldine on Establishing values, finding purpose
Episode 11 with Patrick Andrews, Intrepid creator of new corporate structures
Episode 31 with Idara Bassey, Spirituality and the corporation
Episode 3 with Marguerite Picard, Bringing a human touch to legal family disputes
Episode 25 with Kelly McGrath, Restoring lives in the wake of trauma and serious crime
Episode 13 with Peter Lustig, Our lives as legal mythology
Hello, my name is Geraldine Johns-Putra. I'm the host of the New Earth lawyer podcast. I'm a lawyer based in Melbourne, Australia. My podcast features lawyers who are changing the practice of law to change the world. Throughout my podcast, I have interviewed many lawyers who are part of what is known as the integrative law movement. What is the integrative law movement? In this video, I'll explain it, how it came about, and where you can find integrative lawyers
So Lawyers as Peacemakers was actually commissioned by the ABA. They asked me to write that because they saw the work I was doing, I was videotaping interviews of lawyers, and the editor came to me and she said, we know this is the way law's going, but we didn't think that we had progressed this far. We would like for you to write a book about what you're discovering. So in 2008, as you said, I gave up my house, and I travelled with a videographer and we interviewed about 100 lawyers, who were pioneers in a new way of thinking. And so that new way of thinking got written into Lawyers as Peacemakers. At that time, there were things like, what is collaborative law? What is restorative justice, and people were beginning to do contemplative practices in law, and starting to integrate their spirituality and there was this whole movement towards, well, maybe lawyers really should be doing some more personal growth, and maybe coaches would help. And what about wellbeing? So after that book, I continued to travel and I started going overseas. In fact, the first country I went to outside of the US was Australia. And I was invited to come and talk about a holistic approach to law. And now that I've been on six continents, meeting lawyers, I actually could see that it is an international movement and that's when I wrote the update, or the expansion, which is Lawyers as Changemakers and that's about the global integrative law movement.
From writing the books Lawyers as Peacemakers and Lawyers as Changemakers, Kim Wright had discovered the integrative law movement. Today, you can visit the website integrative law.com, run by Kim, to discover more about this movement, and all of the practice areas and ways in which integrative lawyers work and serve. What Kim found is that integrative lawyers have four things in common. Firstly, integrative lawyers are reflective.
I definitely started life as a traditional lawyer. And I actually loved the law and law school and was so excited to be like one of those TV stars who went to court and found out the truth. Except I found that when I went to court, it wasn't necessarily about finding the truth. And I found I had many, many clients, not only family law clients, but in other areas of law that I worked in, where even though we won the court cases, they weren't happy. And I was really puzzled by that. And I had loved litigation and court work. And I did work a lot in family law. So that was the area that I mainly practised in. And these clients seemed so unhappy at the end of their legal case, even when they'd achieved everything they told me that they wanted. And I was really puzzled about what else is going on. And I felt like the legal system wasn't the structure that could help me enough to help them.
Kim also found that integrative lawyers tend to be values-based, and purpose-based.
Purpose grows out of passion. Think about what you're passionate about, it will be unique to you. They are the things that you can spend hours on and not even notice the time passing. When you do them, you are in a state of what we call flow. And these things energise you rather than exhaust you. In the words of Joseph Campbell, it's about following your bliss, because that's the word for it. When I realised the vital connection between passion and purpose, I began to think about the things that I loved learning about. I am a reader. I love reading. Over the years, I have read hundreds of books, mainly non-fiction ones. But to find my passions, I had to think about the ones that stayed with me. I made a list of my favourite books and themes, again began to emerge. Out of that work was born my purpose, which is to create better enterprises and legal systems. Enterprises that aren't just about making profit, and legal systems that will enable this.
Next Kim found that integrative lawyers were systems thinkers and design thinkers.
So I had this conundrum, this paradox. Why is it that these good, responsible caring people collectively become stupid, irresponsible and uncaring? What is it about the system? So, in a way I ended up and I used to, I thought, I suppose because I was good at maths at school, I thought, I'm going to solve it. So I'll find the answer to organising, you know, we'll design a better system. Because I could see, I could feel if we could get these very, very capable people, and all the systems that surround them, just pointed in a slightly different direction. Turn away from growth, turn away to regeneration, to love, to peace, to beauty, just switch and solve world poverty.
And the final thing that Kim found was that integrative lawyers are harbingers of evolutionary conscious.
Well, I've always wanted to do more formal study of metaphysics, and I certainly had time to do it. So that's when I enrolled in the doctoral program at that time. Because what I was doing, I mean, my thesis research in particular, was I was looking at how energy manifests in different corporate settings. I was looking at corporations as an energetic entity, because I wanted to see how people can live out their spiritual truths in this environment, if it possible, how that happens. One thing that was very interesting is that there are portions of my thesis that were channelled. Yes, I made that clear to the panel that was evaluating my thesis to say, hey, look, when you see these portions of the thesis that are in italics, these are from, you know, channelled entities, they don't wish to be identified at this time. But I want you to know that, you know, this is going alongside, you know, the traditional research, and, obviously, because of the company, I was in that wasn't a problem. But these ideas, the ideas that I was exploring, were channelled, and then I picked up, you know, supporting research to expand upon them, or what have you. But there was one quote that really kicked things off, and I'll read it to you, because I still still remember because they hit me like a tonne of bricks. It's like, the downfall of a corporation is a potent example of what happens when unhealed individuals hold leadership positions.
Now that we know what integrative lawyers are, where do we find them? What areas of law do they practise in?
I suppose part of where I come from is the idea that law has claimed territory that perhaps doesn't belong to it. I think that when there are any interpersonal disputes, which is usually where interpersonal relationships intersect with the law, of course, when people are in dispute, if we stand back, it's quite curious that people with training as lawyers would be in charge of the idea of helping people to resolve interpersonal disputes. And I think that lawyers often, we don't understand our own conflict style, we don't understand how we're contributing to the conflict. And also, when we see people come along to us in some kind of dispute, we're not seeing the context for that. We're not seeing where that fits into the system. We don't have any understanding of the individual's emotional or psychological makeup, what's in their personality. We don't understand the dynamic that's happening between people. And I absolutely agree with you that this is, the collaborative approach is not only right for people who are separating, but in any kind of dispute. And one of the areas that's starting to grow in Australia is people who have disputes about wills and estates and like divorce they're about family relationships, much more than about money or law in many cases.
I've been talking to people around that. But we haven't really got into restorative justice on this show. So I'd love to hear about your experiences with that.
Yeah. So, a few years ago, I was in, there was a workshop and I said, oh, I want to learn about this. And there were there were four people sitting on a stage. Two couples. And Andy and Kate Grosmaire's daughter Ann was shot and killed by Michael and Julie McBride's son. And they knew each other for years, they were, the kids were young adults, but they had been dating for quite a while. And these two couples made a decision that they didn't want Conor McBride to get the death penalty. And they wanted to talk to him about the last moments of Ann's life. And they found restorative justice, which is a way of addressing harm, where the person who did the harm has admitted accountability and wants to make things as right as possible. And the person who was harmed agrees they want a face-to-face meeting. And if those parameters are met, then a trained facilitator will meet with each person involved in the incident and anyone else that's impacted. and talk to them about the four main questions: what happened, who was impacted and how, what needs to be done to make things as right as possible, and what needs to be done to make sure this never happens again. And then they talk about, then they gather at a facilitated meeting, and go over those questions together. And then those become an agreement that helps make things as right, repair harm as much as possible. Obviously, in a murder case, you cannot bring someone back. But their repair came in some of the things they asked Conor to do. Like when he gets out he's going to speak about there was dating violence in the relationship. So he's going to speak to high schoolers about dating violence for a certain number of years. There's other things that they wanted him to do, after he got out of prison, and also, obviously, there was prison time involved in this agreement. But it's so transformative. In every study, it's been shown that I've ever read about restorative justice, it has shown that there's effectiveness in reducing recidivism, and satisfaction of the victim, and their family and the offender's family who really is normally, you know, just cast aside.
I suppose for me, conceptually, we're shifting from a sort of a top-down assumption that purpose needs to be led or owners, finance, money needs to be led, or a big white man needs to lead, you know, somebody must be in charge of this chaos, right? And what the insight from quantum physics of, you know, 60,70 years ago was, well, life ain't like that, you know, life is dynamic and moving. And sometimes you have to see light as a wave. And actually, depending on how you look at it, it will show up as a wave or individual particles. And that's, you know, and you can read this in the Tao de Ching of 2000 years ago. So what would a... and as soon as we have this dominant thing, it just tends to sort of adopt the thinking of a cancer cell and just grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. But if we allow a much more human, you know, like, our left brain, right brain. Who's in charge, you know?
Who's in charge of a forest?
Who's in charge of a forest? Where's the head tree, you know?
This is what we do, right? We do to make sense of an organisation or complex system of people, we sort of go in and say, oh, who's in charge. And in a way, the neatness of a legal structure is it brings a template to say, in all this messy humanity, well, that person is in charge, that group of people are in charge, and that person, that group and their employees, it's very simple. And I think the evolution that's happening is to... evolution tends to bring greater complexity. So what if we had four CEOs and five boards? Have, you know, and one board is a youth board, which particularly takes care of the children? So what if an oil company had a youth board and it had a wise elder, wise elder women board? You know, and then nobody's in charge? And that's much more like shifting to a democratic model.
So what often happens in conflicts is, it's a 'you owe me this' or 'I'm not liable in the way that you're saying'. I remember having a dealing with a partnership dispute a little while ago, and the two men who were involved had built up a very, very successful business that was turning over millions. And it was almost stultified, because they were at such loggerheads, they'd been together for 15 years, When they finally got together and addressed it, we worked through a number of issues, and there was only a couple left. And the question that was asked was, look at the man sitting opposite you, he has been your partner for 15 years, and you and he and your families have gone out on innumerable occasions together, your children he is godfather to your children, and almost all of the material wealth that you are presently enjoying is as a result of that man's input. So what is it, not that you want from this man, but what is it that you might give to him? And that's when we were talking about the price, the buyout price, and we were able to agree on it like inside of moments.
A conscious contract is a relational-values based contract. It's actually is a trademarked term for something that's becoming generically accepted in a lot of places. But our particular conscious contract version is a process rather than a piece of paper. So the process is that if people are going to be in a relationship that is documented by a contract, that they should know who they are. So we have a conversation, like who are you and what's important to you. With the clients, like this is not lawyers swapping drafts, this is, we're going to come into the room, we're going to have the client in the room or the Zoom Room, we're going to have the client there, we're going to have, if there's another lawyer, the lawyers there and the other client is there, and we're all going to talk about what's really important, like why did you choose each other? You know, what makes this the right relationship for going forward? And that's when we talk about what are your values. We might, you know, look at mission, vision and those sorts of things that people and companies look at. And that's, we actually put it into the contract, it becomes memorialised in the contract, so that it becomes a reference point. And then, so that's the touchstone, that's the first part that makes it a conscious contract. And then the next part is, we call it ACED - addressing change, engaging disagreement. So then there's this conversation about how do we preserve this because we are human. And human beings get triggered. Human beings have arguments, they have differences of opinion, circumstances change, but these things happen. And when that happens, what are we going to do?
These are just some of the practice areas in which you'll find integrative lawyers. But there are many more. There are lawyers who practise in what's called sharing law, which unlike traditional property law focuses on collaborative economies, and the minimisation of waste. There are lawyers who practise Earth jurisprudence or wild law that seeks to give rights to the planet and nature. You may already be thinking or practising like an integrative lawyer. You may call yourself an integrative lawyer, or you may not. It doesn't matter. What matters is that more and more lawyers are coming together and standing up, reflecting on how they can make things better, basing their practices on personal values, working towards a selfless purpose or mission, thinking about how they can design and improve the entire system. And understanding that all of this represents a shift towards a better place for all of humanity.