Seeking Serenity: When Lawyers Go Zen

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