The Law of Mindfulness

Barry Boyce profiles three mindfulness programs for lawyers that promote a more effective, sustainable justice system—for more on this check out the livestream of Creating a Mindful Society.

Traditional legal training focuses on overcoming external challenges. Now, an increasing number of lawyers are training themselves to work on their inner challenges in an effort to improve their law practice, benefit clients and colleagues, provide better training for other lawyers, and, ultimately, yield better justice.

The leading initiative in this area is the Law Program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, headquartered in Northampton, Massachusetts. The program sponsors annual retreats and other gatherings for lawyers, judges, professors, and students. It held its first retreat in 1998, for Yale Law School students and faculty, led by mindfulness luminary Joseph Goldstein. The program has held over twenty retreats and events since, including its flagship annual retreat for legal professionals at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County. In 2008-2009, the program held retreats on both the East and West Coasts. The retreats combine sitting and walking meditation, yoga, qigong, speakers, and discussion.

The Law Program’s leading light is Charles Halpern, a renowned public interest lawyer who is chair of the board of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. In 1982 when he became the founding dean of the City University of New York’s law school, he started practicing…