My Experience at the 2018 Spirit Law Conference

Last week I attended a four day conference organized by the Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law and Politics (PISLAP), a nationwide network of lawyers, law professors, law students, legal workers, and others who are seeking to develop a new spiritually-informed approach to law and social change.

I became aware of PISLAP fairly recently through a lawyer’s networking event, and was curious about the work the group was doing. I was excited when I heard about PISLAP’s Spirit Law Conference at American University Law School in Washington, D.C ., and made it a priority to attend.

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The theme of this year’s conference was Fostering Human Connection in an Era of Alienation, which was apropos for me personally, since the mindset of the traditional legal profession feels so unnatural to me that alienation has practically become the theme of my professional life.

While I missed the reception the first night of the conference Thursday evening, the next three days were jam packed with speakers, break-out groups and spiritual practices. I attended most of the sessions, but traffic and tiredness kept me from full-on completing the twelve hour day marathons on Friday and Saturday.

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Most of the people in attendance were lawyers and law professors, but I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more non-lawyers present. I think more diversity would have added another dimension to the presentations and discussions.

PISLAP seems to focus quite a bit on restorative justice, so there were keynote speakers who talked about their experiences with restorative justice practices, such as healing circles, and how they could be used to help heal the racial and political divide.

There were law school professor keynote speakers as well as attendees who spoke about the soul killing environment of law schools and how a more holistic approach to legal education might be introduced to law students.

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The use of mediation and collaborative law as alternatives to the adversarial dynamic of litigation were also strong themes at the convention.  I really enjoyed the session with mediator John Spiegel and clinical psychologist Judith Glasser on the demonstrated benefits of “generative attention” in mediation as well as other social interactions.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the heartfelt sharing that occurred in the smaller group discussions, where almost everyone expressed gratitude for the opportunity to connect with like-minded souls.

I am definitely looking forward to continuing my connection with PISLAP and getting more involved in their group projects and events.

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