This site is an on-line CV, a place where you can get to know me and more about what I do, want to do, can do, how I can help you. This landing page has my backstory and the links take you to some of my activities.
Friends say I must be 100 years old to have done as much as I have. (I’m not.) This page is an overview. Click on the Links in the Menu to dig deeper about each of these hats I wear. If you’re looking for a bio for a speaking gig, see this page.
“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change
the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.
That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called.”
— R. Buckminster Fuller
Legal Systems Change: Grow, Connect, Inspire, and Learn
I am an advocate for systems change in the law, particularly focusing on a set of values and models called Integrative Law. I’ve arranged my life to follow my passion and values and to connect with lawyers who are changing how law is practiced by following theirs.
I was first licensed as a lawyer in 1989. I thought law practice was a pretty miserable profession and I avoided it — until I met Chicago lawyer Forrest Bayard. He talked about peacemaking, collaboration, and dignity and how his divorce clients became friends and co-parents after the divorce. He showed me that another way of practicing was possible.
Until then, I thought I was alone. Meeting Forrest changed my life and transformed my law practice. It is now my mission to follow in his footsteps and do that for others. Lawyers who are doing things differently are often seen as weird by their peers, even if what they’re doing is evolutionary and amazing. Having a community gives us the courage to persist.
In 1999, I was in a Landmark Education course that encouraged us to think about a project that was impossible and then find a way to commit our lives to achieving it. One requirement was that we couldn’t do the project alone and we had to enroll a community. My impossible project was the transformation of law, to have lawyers recognized as peacemakers, problem-solvers, and healers of conflicts, being agents of transformation in their communities. I took on the project, knowing that even if I failed, the world would be a better place.
In the early 2000s, I attended dozens of events and conferences and I began to study and experiment with a number of outlying legal practices: holistic law, therapeutic jurisprudence, law and creative problem-solving, sacred activism, humanizing legal education, plain language, PISLAP, ADR, mediation, collaborative law, restorative justice, non-violent communication, and more. Each was a separate silo and experts in one approach didn’t know what was going on in the others.
I decided to pull those common themes together by educating the legal community, showcasing the pioneers, and finding ways to support the evolution of law. I wrote the first compilation of these themes on the Renaissance Lawyer website in 2000.
Transforming law wasn’t exactly a job description with a pay grade. As I turned my attention to the bigger picture, my law practice began to take time away from my mission. So in 2008, I gave up my house and office and went on the road. At the time, I expected to be gone for about three months. One thing led to another. By 2020, I had built relationships and communities on six continents. I had met the most interesting, innovative, courageous, and principled lawyers in the world. I expected to continue traveling for years to come. (The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted that plan.)
When I first began to travel, I thought I was creating a documentary. I traveled with a videographer and we filmed interviews of over 100 pioneers. Among them: Susan Daicoff, then a law professor and psychologist, who wrote and spoke about how some types of legal practice were healthier and the lawyers were happier; Bruce Winick, one of the founders of Therapeutic Jurisprudence; Larry Krieger whose work on humanizing legal education led to research on lawyer happiness; Stu Webb, who created Collaborative Law; Janine Geske who left her position as a state Supreme Court Justice to pursue, Restorative Justice; and many other pioneers, lawyers, judges, law professors. Soon, it became clear that the stories were too powerful to reduce to clips and we posted the full interviews on the web (now the Cutting Edge Law YouTube channel).
In 2009, the American Bar Association (ABA) named me as a Legal Rebel (their designation for visionaries and trailblazers) and asked me to write a book about what I was discovering. Lawyers as Peacemakers, Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law was published in 2010 and went to the ABA best-seller list in pre-sales and stayed there for months after publication.
As I interviewed lawyers and met others in my travels, I observed common threads in the conversations, eventually identifying a common set of values and a path that many lawyers followed. My travels took me abroad in 2012 and I began to see how that the transformation was widespread. The ABA asked me to write another book and at the end of 2016. Lawyers as Changemakers, The Global Integrative Law Movement was released for pre-sales on CyberMonday and was the ABA’s best seller that day. It has gone on to respectable sales on Amazon (often top in its category), in addition to the ABA site.
There is a lot about our current legal system that is broken or could be improved. There are people working in those areas of reform and I am glad they are. I contribute to their organizations and celebrate their victories. When lawyers talk to me about their missions, I often hear that they want to be doing such advocacy and I happily connect them with their kindred spirits.
My own attention is turned toward those who are building the new legal system, one that works for all beings, that is based on an evolving consciousness, purposes and values, reflection, and personal integrity. Earth lawyers who champion the rights of nature; sharing lawyers who help us live in sustainable communities; legal designers who make documents accessible to everyone; and trauma-informed legal practitioners who bring awareness and healing to the system: I believe they are part of the legal system of the future. Our early efforts from the 80s and 90s have been like pilot projects for a future legal system that takes the best of the old and is open to the best of what is possible.
Coach & Consultant
Law: I consult with an eclectic mix of solo practitioners to governments, small businesses to international nonprofits. Generally I combine consulting and training. This impact report was prepared by one of my clients and serves as an example of the kind of work I have done. I also sometimes help law professors design courses which integrate these ideas.
I coach lawyers who are serious about integrating their values, lives, and careers. Some are building new paradigm law firms. Some are in transition to new positions or figuring out what path to take. I work with trailblazers and pioneers who are courageously moving law forward. Sometimes lawyers call me for support or integrity coaching when the people around them don’t understand them and they need to have their values-based choices bolstered.
Conscious Business and Teal Organizations: Through my consulting and work in Conscious Contracts, I work at the intersection of organizational development and legal consulting. Whether designing a court system, a law firm, or a business, I am a strategic thinking partner to conscious leaders and I help align legal structures and documents with organizational purpose and values. Start-ups consult me about their organizational culture. I am both a formal and informal advisor to several organizations.
Social entrepreneurs start organizations to solve social problems. I think I’ve been a social entrepreneur all of my life. Cutting Edge Law Enterprises, Inc. is a Florida social purpose corporation and I’m in tune with the movement toward conscious business, benefit corporations, and social enterprises.
I have written for Conscious Company Magazine and Enlivening Edge, the magazine for Next Stage (Teal) Organizations, inspired by Frederic Laloux’s book, Reinventing Organizations. I’m one of the founders and a member of the Cultivators Team of Forrest Webb, sponsor of the Legal Changemakers’ Cafés and the Future of the Law Firm project. I am a founding member of Society 2045, seeking to change the way society works by bringing together those on the leading edge of individual, social, and systems evolution movements.
Speaker & Trainer
My kids would say I talk a lot. I also speak and train a lot. I have spoken to bar associations, law societies, law schools, universities, private gatherings, and even an occasional club or church function. In October, 2015, I spoke at a TEDx event called “Practicing Change,” held at New York University School of Law. Link here to TEDx Video.
Trainings & Topics
Those who have trained in live programs with me probably remember that I bring a lot of creative exercises and experiential learning. Yes, lawyers can fingerpaint!
At one point, I had a catalog of 35 different programs that I was able to offer. Topics on lawyer wellness, stress and time management, collaborative practice, restorative justice, mediation, domestic violence, elimination of bias, and more. These days, I’m focusing my energy on a few special topics.
These are my most-offered programs, now offered online.
Lawyer & Mediator
I’ve been licensed as a lawyer since 1989; since 1994 in North Carolina, the only state where I still have an active license. Early in my legal career, I learned about mediation (then a new concept in our community), collaborative law (a new concept just about everywhere at that time), restorative justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, plain language drafting, and holistic law. My law practice became my laboratory for learning and applying new ideas and models. I pushed the envelope in finding a way to ethically work in multidisciplinary teams and to have an office with counselors, social workers and legal staff. I used skills from one model of law practice in the others and (in addition to a top notch staff) I supervised interns in law and social work.
I rarely practice law these days, mostly preferring the role of consultant, coach, or consultant to those writing Conscious Contracts.
I write because I can and I like to. Also, it is a way to attract attention to the Integrative Law movement and to showcase the innovators and pioneers in the movement.
I’m currently working on two books, with collaborators. Lawyers as Designers and Trauma-Informed Law: A Primer for Lawyers in Practice. Look for those in 2021 and 2022. A book on holistic policing is also on the drawing board and I’m outlining a book for general audiences about intentionally living outside your comfort zone.
My books are being adapted and translated into various languages. The Italian version is the one most likely to be on the market first.
In addition to consulting on stories, I write articles and chapters. I contributed to The Best Lawyer You Can Be: A Guide to Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness by Stewart Levine and 50 Lessons for Women Lawyers – From Women Lawyers: Career and Life Lessons From 50 Successful Women Lawyers by Nora Riva Bergman. I’ve written forwards and chapters for other books that have been translated into other languages. Years ago, I contributed to What Can You Do With A Law Degree, 5th Edition.
I am often interviewed for news stories, both about my work and about the larger movement. I’ve been involved in several documentary projects. For example, I worked on a restorative justice documentary for A&E (the Arts and Entertainment Network). I advised the producers and was on-the-ground in screening cases, meeting with families of murder victims and those incarcerated for the murders. At one point I was talking to the producers of Oprah, but I didn’t make it onto the stage. (That is fine with me. It is about the message, not me.) I worked on prison policies for RJ and for filming inside. Since then, I’ve worked on several treatments for other shows and have consulted with filmmakers and television producers on various topics. Some media. And some media projects I’ve been involved in.
Click on the link to see more of my writing, although I’m not too motivated to keep it up to date. My LinkedIn account also includes quite a few articles. Some weekend when I’m not going anything else, I will collect up all my writings in one place and organize them. Not today.
I’ve been a guest lecturer at more law schools than I can count, on six continents. Periodically, I will teach a whole course as an adjunct faculty member. I’ve taught Mediation and ADR, Restorative Justice, and Business Law at the college/university level. I have taught Integrative Law at Charlotte Law School, Values-Based Contracts, Negotiating and Drafting at Barry University’s Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law and a Transactional Clinic and a Negotiations Clinic (using Conscious Contracts®) at Quinnipiac Law School. That Clinic at Quinnipiac was the beginning of a longer relationship with more possibilities being explored.
I am collaborating on a curriculum for law students in South Africa. I prepared a reader, a compilation of over 700 pages of my writings, and we’re designing a program that will launch in seven law schools in 2021.
I try to stay in touch with legal education in other ways. For several years, I was on the planning committee of the Lawyers as Peacemakers annual conferences at Phoenix School of Law (also known as Arizona Summit Law). I served on the executive committee of the ABA Legal Education and Practical Problem-Solving Task Force. I developed their website and have been on panels to speak of the task force’s work to legal educators. I attended and was a keynote speaker at the 2018 Open University conference on the Futures of Legal Education and Practice in the UK. I created a reader on Integrative Law for the 4th year LLB students at Varsity University.
In 2016, I spoke at the Ashoka U Exchange, addressing change-making law professors, most of whom are teaching in the social enterprise movement. That led to my participation in a Working Group for Reimagining Legal Education where I have signed up for the Impacting Law Practice and Impact Investment sub-groups. I was a speaker and planner for the Ashoka U legal education pre-day program on Law and Social Innovation. We have an on-going project to develop a curriculum for law and social entrepreneurship.
If we seek peace and community in the world, strangely enough, lawyers will lead us there, specifically through the restorative framework and movement. –Peter Block
Sometimes I say that I collect lawyers. I am sincerely curious about what people are doing, who they are, how they got here, what they envision, their hopes, dreams and future adventures. I push, nudge, cajole, and encourage them to try out some of their ideas and we’re often surprised at how well they resonate with clients and the community.
You wouldn’t know it from reading this page so far, but I spend most of my time as a connector. In my travels, I find those who are the harbingers of the new, emerging future of law. I reach out to the interesting people whose stories cross my path. My writing attracts attention and I get emails from lawyers who previously thought they are alone. I stay in touch with Earth Lawyers, Sharing Lawyers, healing lawyers, peacemakers, and dozens of other kinds of innovators who are passionately solving the problems of the day and joyously working to move us all forward. I support, connect, and showcase the work of the paradigm-shifters. I help to give language to and highlight what is going on in the new system, and I liaison with our kindred spirits in other disciplines: conscious business. abundant communities, organizational development, consciousness, etc. I have a finger in a dozen international projects and impact ventures as a behind-the-scenes adviser and champion.
I started my work in peacemaking and law early in my career – in the mid-1990s. In 1999, I attended my first conference of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers and I was a member, board member, website developer, and more there over the years. I was a founding board member of the Renaissance Lawyer Society and author of its original website over twenty years ago. I have been an erstwhile member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, National Association for Community and Restorative Justice, the Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law, and Politics and other organizations, task forces, and committees. When I am a member, I am usually an active one. I was one of the founders of the IACP Diversity Task Force and one of the hosts of the Diversity Summit in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I’ve helped plan dozens (maybe hundreds?) of conferences around the world. I’ve trained collaborative practitioners around the world. I have spoken at several IACP conferences and have written for the newsletter. I’ve also spoken at several conferences of the National Conference for Community and Restorative Justice and I am a supporter of the Florida Restorative Justice Association. Currently, I’m a member of the advisory board of the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence.
In 2018, I became one of the co-chairs of the Relational Practices Task Force of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section and I was Chair of the Relational Practices Summit in September. I hosted the Relational Practices monthly call series in 2018 and 2019.
Convener, Evolutionary, & Possibilitarian
I convene groups, lead retreats, and organize summits. Sometimes I convene those with special interests: lawyers who study the Enneagram, who study Jungian psychology, or even those who love music. In 2018, I was one of the conveners of a conference for “integrally-informed” lawyers.
My travels often take me back to the same places. I consult with local groups, look to see what is the next step, and help to design programs to move them forward. I’ve hosted two US summits of integrative lawyers from a broad spectrum of practice areas and often gather integrative lawyers in regional and national meetings.
I am intrigued by societal transformation and my work often serves as a laboratory for applying the newest ideas. I am a student of many societal and organizational models for grounding transformation in groups. I am a big fan of the Berkana Institute models. I have studied Appreciative Inquiry for more than 20 years. I’m certified in Spiral Dynamics I and II and was a speaker at the 2018 SDi Futures Summit which led to an article in Integral Leadership Review. I am also a graduate of the TheoryU U-Lab course, Transforming Business, Society, and Self. I was recognized with Honors in Becoming a Changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation by University of Cape Town.
I am a senior graduate of Landmark Education programs, with more than 1,000 hours of transformational education, including the Wisdom Curriculum through Power and Contribution. I am a past-participant and speaker at the Conference for Global Transformation.
I’ve circumnavigated the globe several times. I love the adventure of discovering a new place but my travel is not haphazard or tourism. I travel with a purpose. I was one of the early digital nomads, before it was cool.
These days, I’m staying in one place, laying low in public, but still traveling around the world without carrying luggage. See some of my projects on my Padlet.
Mom, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother
I have had an unusual family life. I sometimes refer to it as mine, his, ours, and theirs. My first son was born in my sophomore year of college. My second husband had a big family when we married and we added a daughter to the mix. When I went to law school, I had seven children at home. That marriage ended in my second year of law school and I got an intimate taste of an adversarial divorce. Luckily the children and I have stayed connected. My [step] daughter was living with me when her first child was born – while I was taking my first bar exam. As the years went by, other children (often teenagers) moved in and became part of the family. There were 16 children who lived with us over the years.
Now it is a motley crew. My firstborn son has a five-year old. My youngest daughter still follows in the tradition of rescuing lost boys. The grandson born during my bar exam has five children. His sister has a toddler son. In between there is an extended family worthy of its own book.