Sep 04, 2018
The News, Emotions and the Practice of Law
Sep 04, 2018
By Robert Rosborough
August is often a dull month, where the pace has slowed from many people being on vacation or focusing on children returning to school. While perhaps that was the case for many of us this year, the news cycle did not take August off. When Morgan Daly started writing her article on a place for cash bail in bail reform, it looked as if California’s bail reform might be falling apart. But before the month was out, we had a signed bill that will go into effect in October, 2019. While a sea change in criminal justice was happening here, the criminal justice system back East produced some remarkable drama. Be sure to read Tom Brown’s President’s Message for some thoughts on how a perhaps unexpected institution is suffering from the latest events surrounding President Trump’s associates: the attorney-client relationship. What do you think the future holds: will attorney-client protections erode or will a reaction against that prevail?
Both bail reform and the Mueller investigation produce some heated emotions. Conflict tends to do that. How do you handle these emotions in your practice? Do you talk with your clients about making “rational decisions” when they are emotional? Or do you ask them more about what they’re feeling? Eileen Barker writes about the need for “emotional literacy” among mediators and I would argue that the need applies almost as much to attorneys. As a conflict resolution professor, I teach students how much emotions are a part of our decision-making process and as a meditation teacher, I teach how much meditation is about gaining a better relationship with our emotions. I encourage everyone to read Eileen’s article for some insight into both of those things: the role of emotions in conflict and how, whether as mediators or lawyers, our own relationship with emotions influences how we help—or don’t help—our clients as they struggle with conflict.
Speaking of emotions, Marie Barnes meditates on the role of joy in the practice of law and invites us to consider what gives each of us joy in our practices. I think simply asking the question is a good start to cultivating joy in your practice. If that is something you’d like to do more of, Marie invites you to attend the Joy in the Law conference on September 28th. MCBA is a co-sponsor of this day-long conference designed to explore and cultivate practices that bring us joy in the practice of law. And really, who wouldn’t like a little more joy? You can sign up through MCBA’s events page or through a link in Marie’s article. I hope to see you there.
Another event I encourage our members to attend is an Open House at Legal Aid of Marin on October 11th. As many of our readers know, Legal Aid has a new executive director: Stephanie Haffner. I profile her to help you get to know her better and learn a little about Legal Aid. She is grateful for the remarkable amount of time that members of the bar donate to Legal Aid clients. I volunteer for Legal Aid one afternoon a month but you don’t have to have a regular gig to volunteer. Read the profile and get in touch with her to explore how you might help or at least add yourself to the guest list for the Open House.
As always, I encourage feedback from our readers, whether a few comments to me or another board member at an event, a letter to the Editor, or best of all, an article for a future issue with content you’d like to see in the Marin Lawyer. Until next time, I wish everyone a little more joy in their practice.
Rob Rosborough is Of Counsel to Monty White LLP. He mediates disputes where an ongoing relationship is at stake, particularly adult-family conflict such as disagreement over caring for an aging parent and HOA disputes. He maintains an estate planning and general advisory and transactional law practice focusing on personal and small business issues. Rob also teaches at USF’s Fromm Institute (conflict resolution and history of science) and helps lawyers cope with the practice of law by teaching them meditation skills as a certified iRest® meditation teacher.