Legal Profession Look Out! A Change is A-Comin’!

A great legacy has been born, and I’m proud to be able to announce it!  J. Kim Wright’s book “Lawyers As Peacemakers” has been published by the American Bar Association and is now available.  We also did a fabulous Creating Legacy Studio interview with Kim, about her legacy journey to this point – “A Legal Rebel’s Legacy Story” – and a recording of it is available for download on The Studio program site.

I’ve been on this journey with Kim since just after the turn of the new millenium (can you say Y2K?) – actually a lot longer than that, only I didn’t know her.  We were both restless and somewhat disillusioned with the legal profession.  Okay, not so much the profession, or even lawyers themselves, but the system within which we all had to practice.  We (and it turns out a number of others) felt there had to be a better way to use the law to serve clients and help make their lives and businesses better.  So we started making stuff up, borrowing from other traditions and professions, and fitting these new approaches into the structure of the law.

Yeah, they were teaching negotiation techniques when I went through law school.  And mediation – facilitated negotiation providing parties assistance to resolve their own disputes without a third party making the decision for them – was coming on the scene.  (This dates me, I know, since most post- college age people have at least heard of mediation and have some sense for what it is – thank God.)

But many of us longed for more civility and more constructive … yes, well, healing, approaches to legal problems.  Why should the health care and spiritual professions be the only ones to heal with their work? 

The information age being what it was back when Y2K posed what turned out to be not so much threat and disaster as hype (oh and the media has gotten better with the latter since then hasn’t it?  But I digress …), the powers that be put me together with Kim Wright and it’s been a totally kindred legal experience ever since.  I was retiring from law practice then, to pursue the more developmental and creative sides of what I did with clients – help them prevent legal intrusions, have successful businesses and happy lives, and even make things better in the world.  And Kim was, dare I say, hell-bent on improving the way law is practiced: the entire profession.

As a legacy story, this book publication has all the great elements:  Kim discovered her passion and interests, knew who she wanted to serve and benefit, figured out a structure that worked for her and has now created a number of artifacts that will persist in producing social good – this book being one of many others and no doubt some to come.  And she did it all on a shoe-string with her guts and grit and determination and heart.  For her efforts she has already been recognized as one of the ABA’s Legal Rebels for 2009.

Who says a great legacy requires a large financial estate? Even with that, it still takes the underlying guts and grit and determination and heart first – to persist and pursue and bring something beneficial to life.

In the 528 pages of  “Lawyers as Peacemakers” Kim provides the reader with the first comprehensive look at the myriad approaches talented and caring lawyers have developed to do just what we were dreaming about when we met.  If she hasn’t personally met and interviewed all the pioneers in this movement to tell the stories of how they work together, heal and bring peace to conflict and discord, she knows 99% of them.  And she is their — our — champion. Heck, she’s a champion for the entire legal profession and the people it serves – with her help in a more therapeutic way. It is my fervent hope that her impact is huge – even while I recognize how hard it is to turn a ship as large as an entire profession.  Even a few degrees on the trim tab, like Kim has made, can make a big difference.

Kim tells me that while writing the book she gathered enough additional information to write a follow up companion to it and not repeat anything she talks about in Lawyers As Peacemakers.  I hope it will soon follow her magnificaent first book! 

May the positive change continue as others get on board.  Cheers, Dolly

Increasing The Power of Feminine Energy on the Planet

There is an amazing legacy project that starts today and runs for the next week – that you can access from the comfort of your home.  It’s called the Inspiring Women Summit.

The Summit is directed toward women for sure – as the primary demonstrators of feminine energies on the planet – in an effort to support them in greater use of the power of the feminine viewpoint and approach in the world.  And we here at Creating Legacy support that, because we want to see the power of the feminine viewpoint get stronger in terms of the way the world works.  Cultivating and nurturing a culture of contribution – living a legacy approach to life – certainly embodies that. 

However, while the word feminine – just check the dictionary – is most often defined with sex and gender characteristics, feminine and masculine (for that matter) are gender neutral terms.  Each of us possesses both feminine and masculine traits.  A great comparison of those qualities is available here (you may have to adjust the items under the proper columns depending on how it shows up on your computer, but you can download the Google version into Word). 

It is really how culture and sex role stereotypes have influenced you that will determine how comfortable you will be with expressing the feminine or masculine qualities you have access to.  And the context you are operating in will also be an influence – or a challenge to rise above and choose to use a different tool than the expected.

When I was training to be and practicing as a Registered Nurse, most nurses were female.  Not all.  But despite the highly scientific and technical aspects of the nursing profession, the fact that it was founded on caring put it squarely in the feminine domain and thus only a few strong guys were attracted to it.  That is not so true anymore.

Unlike my female predecessors and pioneers in the law, who may have been one of 5-10% of women in their law school classes, when I went through law school, my class was about 30% female.  Today, in both medicine and law – both previously the provinces of men – women make up about 50% of the graduating classes.  The focus on reading, research, writing, oratory and advocacy skills that make up legal education are clearly “something girls can do” … well, and thus do well in practice, too.  But historically, culturally, lawyers were men – not because women were not capable.  Even the skill sets of the law might be considered feminine in nature when compared with the hard physical labor of construction or combat jobs …

I’ve had two previous careers that gave me a lot of opportunity to consider the difference between a feminine and masculine approach to the subject matter and related tasks of the work.  I’ve seen males take a feminine approach to aspects of the work, and I’ve certainly seen (especially in law practice) females do their best to take on a masculine approach to the work – often thinking that is what they had to do to ‘compete’ in the workplace or the courtroom.

Well, it’s not true.  Either gender can use, hopefully the best of, the feminine or masculine energies in approach to their work.  What’s great about the Inspiring Women Summit is that we’ll get a chance to explore more of the feminine approach – as well as how women can emerge as stronger leaders in the world.  In my view, it’s certainly time in history for a greater emphasis on the feminine, from everyone.  And no, I’m not trying to be emasculating as some in the culture might suggest.  I’ll be the first to take on and use masculine energies when I need to.  It’s just that I know the difference … have a more varied toolbox perhaps than folks who insist on sticking with rigid sex role stereotypes. 

I have my parents to thank for this.  They taught me that I could do whatever I wanted to do based on merit, not on gender.

I wonder how clear these distinctions are for the generation of women who follow mine.  At the baby end of the baby boom and the leading edge of Generation X, I know the struggles of my predecessor women professionals and business owners – the trail blazers – that allowed me to be more of a pioneer with my work, discovering, designing, and building new approaches as opposed to just getting a foothold.  How do the women who come after view their power (‘ability to do’) to take on the important work they have in life and then make amazing contributions they have to make?  And their role – if not trail blazer or pioneer, how do we best characterize what they are up to?

Would love to hear your thoughts on that.  Cheers, Dolly

Strange Bedfellows: Algae and Big Oil

Bravo on the Enlightened Leadership scale, for Senator Bill Nelson of Florida’s commitment to the environment.  He has introduced Senate Bill 1250 in Congress.  It is the Algae-based Renewable Fuel Promotion Act of 2009, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand the definition of cellulosic biofuel to include algae-based biofuel for purposes of the cellulosic biofuel producer credit and the special allowance for cellulosic biofuel plant property.

In plain English, that means that producers of biofuels from algae would get a tax break for pursuing their work.  Finally, some sensible support comes to the clean energy industry along the lines of the subsidies Big Oil and Big Agriculture have enjoyed in building their businesses.  (Can you say “corn subsidies”, and “high fructose corn syrup”? – the latter of which seems to be in just about everything these days – both of which started in the 1970’s right around the time the obesity epidemic began … but that’s another story). 

Interestingly, Exxon and BP are beginning to invest in this arena according to the Business Exchange forum Clean Techies.  As the Clean Techies article notes, these oil production companies know from whence support for fossil fuel production comes, and hopefully reailze that to continue to command market share in the new clean energy space they’ll need to change from a focus on taking every last drop of oil out of the earth. 

We can only hope.

Recommendations From A Rocket Scientist

My own legacy includes a focus on my value for the preservation of nature.  There is currently legislation in the United States attempting to deal with global climate change – which is, in fact, happening; and which, whether you believe is caused by human activities, will only be solved by human activities.  Or rather changed behavior.

If you value the natural world, part of your developing legacy might be to regularly involve yourself in legislative issues affecting it and participating more actively in representative government. You don’t have to run for office to do this.  One way to do it is to become more informed and then making your views – concerns and recommendations for action – known.

There is legislation currently pending before the U.S. Congress dealing with climate change, H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, known as ACES.  What each of us with this legacy interest can do is learn more about it, AND ask our representatives to create meaningful law that benefits people and not special interests, better yet demand it. 

A list of important items to include in that law was compiled by Jim Hansen, himself an actual rocket scientist – someone who I’m sure knows a lot more about all this than I (and most people, including our legislators) do.  His latest views, concerns and recommendations were recently published at the Huffington Post blog.  He also wrote a very clear summary of what needs to be done at the first of 2009, published at the online magazine Grist.  Another source of good information is at 350.org

You can read the views of Hansen and others, and then use that information to write something to your congressional representatives.  Here are links to find where to write representatives in the U.S. Senate and House.

Go for it!  Be the change you want to see!!