Through my work I have developed what I call “Non-violent Advocacy” that incorporates into mediations or litigation:
1. Non-violent principles of King and Gandhi;
2. Recognition of our interconnected relationship with the other side;
3. Principles from ancient dispute resolution processes and notions of consensus building and mediation;
4. A broader definition of truth; and
5. Moving our role as a lawyer from warrior to a partner for peace in the just resolution of disputes.
Finding Peace Within
Non-Violent advocacy is about relationship and sensitivity, two terms not normally associated with a legal fight. But I’ve been determined to find peace within, and the years of courtroom drama have taught me that responding with anger, or a counter-attack, creates more damage and brakes the part of my heart that remembers we are all interconnected. It is from that understanding that conflict is more easily resolved and durable agreements help the parties with closure.
The law as a “battle” distances us from what I would learn to be our ubuntu nature. Just as lawyers are prone to self-perpetuate the war machine of litigation, the healing messages I’ve witnessed and experienced around the world motivate me to not only be the best lawyer I can be, but to strive to be the best human being. Non-violent advocacy is a choice and it empowers myself and my clients. Through the notion of satyagraha, which means truth force and non-violence, what Gandhi called the “weapon of the strong,” we use any litigation as an opportunity to step out of our patterns and boxes and relearn what it means to be human.