Pauline H. Tesler
Pauline Tesler is the founding director of the Integrative Law Institute. She is a graduate of Harvard University, the Victoria University of Manchester (England), and the University of Wisconsin Law School. After law school she joined the National Center for Youth Law in San Francisco, conducting class actions, major impact litigation and test case appeals on behalf of indigent children and youth. Her cases challenged coercive use of drug therapies in public schools for children with ADHD, foster-care policies that disregarded children's bonds with parent figures, and incarceration of juvenile offenders without either due process or treatment. Pauline and her colleagues devised and argued the successful legal theory that persuaded the California Supreme Court to strike down funding restrictions on poor women's access to abortions on the grounds that those restrictions violated privacy rights under the California Constitution. This legal victory resulted in California extending to this day and uninterrupted range of reproductive choices for women regardless of age or economic status. After federally funded law reform centers like the National Center for Youth Law were defunded during the Reagan administration, Pauline became a partner in the first all-women law firm in Northern California, subsequently starting her own law practice. She has worked as a solo change agent for the past twenty years, supporting her efforts to revitalize the legal profession through her specialist family law practice and her international training and consulting.
A long time California "Superlawyer" who is included in "Best Lawyers in America", and a fellow of the select American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Pauline Tesler's credibility as a successful trial and appellate advocate invites even aggressive litigators to hear what she has to say. Testimonials from her workshops over nearly twenty years confirm her gift for reaching even highly adversarial lawyers through their heads and sending the message from there into their hearts. Pauline's workshops, books, journal articles and speaking have been a key catalyst for an international movement called Collaborative Law that is changing the face of family law in 28 nations. In recognition for that work, she received the first "Lawyer as Problem Solver" award from the American Bar Association in 2002.
As Pauline accepted invitations to teach lawyer colleagues around the world how to work in collaborative professional teams with mental health and financial professionals, she became convinced that law as it relates to all disputes between human (non-corporate) persons is meant to be a healing profession. She saw that the American legal profession is on the verge of a sea change much like the one that has transformed healthcare over the past thirty years in directions that are humanistic, multi-disciplinary, collaborative, integrative, and team-based. In 2008, Pauline began teaching collaborative and other lawyers a groundbreaking workshop course she developed with psychiatrist Thomas B. Lewis, M.D. (author of A General Theory of Love) entitled "NeuroLiteracy 101: Law and the Human Brain for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judicial Officers" at conferences, law schools, bar associations and other lawyer organizations. This was the genesis of Pauline's current work building the broad change movement called Integrative Law.
In 2013, Pauline launched the nonprofit Integrative Law Institute ["ILI"], whose mission is to build a self-sustaining movement led by a network of change-agent peacemaker lawyers across North America and in key locations worldwide. ILI programs are targeted to reach lawyers across the full spectrum of interpersonal conflict resolution, as well as teaching values-based transactional work based on normalizing and planning for respectful, constructive small business dispute resolution. Pauline partnered with Commonweal, a well-established California non-profit organization with worldwide reach, and was invited by their board to bring ILI under the Commonweal umbrella.