Vermont Bar Journal
Meditation and Law Practice
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNALVolume 35, No. 3Fall 2009Meditation and Law PracticeProvoking Thought, Increasing Awareness, Reducing StressReviewed by Ellen Swain Veen, Esq.Inevitably, the question arises in my life: "How did you and your husband meet?" I look the speaker straight in the eye and say, "At a silent meditation retreat for lawyers," and then pause, waiting for the reaction, a mix of incredulity and humor, to ripple across her face. "A room full of silent lawyers? Meditating? Patiently?" To which I respond, "yes, yes, yes."
I attended the four-day retreat after being introduced to the idea of lawyers practicing mindfulness meditation at the American Association of Law Schools annual conference for law faculty nationally. The practice was promoted as a way to reduce stress within the law school environment. Indeed, it is a popular topic among academics seeking to turn out highly effective professionals who retain both their humanity and a sense of balance in their personal life. While I had been a daily meditator since my second year of law school in 1997, my husband was new to the idea. A civil litigator in San Francisco, he was attending the workshop at the urging of his two adult daughters and feeling somewhat under duress.
The mindfulness meditation program offered guidance and a thought-provoking environment for all of the attorney participants, which included both beginning and experienced meditators-a remarkable accomplishment, and one that is duplicated in The Reflective Counselor: Daily Meditations for Lawyers, by F. Gregory Coffey and Maureen C. Kessler.
As the name suggests, the 376-page book contains an introduction and a meditation for each day of the year with the same format: first, a quotation, drawn from a variety of sources, including texts of a variety of spiritual traditions, attorneys and judges, such as Warren Burger, writers as varied as Mark Twain, Goethe, and Milan Kundera, political figures, including Nelson Mandela, and popular thinkers, such as Paul Hawken, followed by a reflection written by one of the authors that is designed to provoke introspection.