Schedule - Descriptions

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Friday, October 29, 2010

2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Meditation Mini-Retreat

We will begin the conference with an optional meditation mini-retreat from 2 - 5 pm. Senior meditation teacher Norman Fischer, who will lead meditation throughout the conference, will guide the retreat. It will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, meditation instruction, and a brief group discussion. The retreat will be suitable for all levels of experience, with particular attention given to beginning meditation instruction during the first hour. People who want to participate only in the first hour of instruction will have an opportunity to leave at the end of the hour.

6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Plenary – Conference Opening and Introduction

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In this session, we will review the development of meditation and law as a growing area of interest in the law, reflecting on the core themes that will be explored during the course of the conference. We will introduce mindfulness practice, with a guided meditation. We will begin to explore what it means to engage with each other and with the substantive material in a mindful fashion, and discuss and review our hopes and aspirations for the conference and for the future growth of meditation in law practice and legal education.

8:30 – 10:00 p.m.
Dessert Reception at Bancroft Hotel

Saturday, October 30, 2010

7:45 – 8:15 a.m.
Optional Yoga in Room 110, led by Rebecca Stahl
Optional Qi Gong in Room 105, led by Charlie Halpern

8:15 – 8:45 a.m.
Optional Meditation in Room 105, led by Norman Fischer

8:45 – 9:15 a.m.
Continental Breakfast

9:15 – 9:55 a.m.

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Centuries-old contemplative practices are now being studied in the lab. Through the use of powerful technologies for imaging the activity of the brain, we better understand the importance and impact of different types of meditation practices. Clinical psychologist and neuroscientist, Philippe Goldin, offers us cutting-edge insights into what neuroscience research has to say about the benefits of meditation from which we may more fully consider its application to our professional and personal lives.

10:00 – 10:45 a.m.


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Studies in psychology and the social sciences about the effects of mindfulness on social interactions and the management of stress have implications for our effectiveness as counselors, advocates, teachers, students, and decision-makers in the legal profession. Join psychologist Dr. Shauna Shapiro as she explores with us the role of mindfulness for awakening the mind and opening the heart. Drawing on current research and theory, she will introduce three primary elements of mindfulness and explore the mechanisms of action through which mindfulness has its transformative effects. In addition, ways of integrating mindfulness personally and professionally to cultivate greater happiness, health and freedom will be discussed (and experienced).

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions

o To many, it is obvious that mindfulness is useful in helping create better lawyers and judges. Others have a hard time appreciating the relevance. This panel will explore reasons why learning and practicing meditation and mindfulness can be integral to the ongoing education of legal and judicial professionals. We will consider the unique opportunities and challenges of CLE/CJE requirements for different jurisdictions and discuss the ways mindfulness training intersects. The panel includes individuals who have presented CLE programs and engaged with this issue and we invite the participation of others who have done so.
o For those interested in delving further into the topics discussed in Saturday morning's plenary session, Philippe Goldin will present an experiential session with more advanced coverage of the current science and recent research related to mindfulness and contemplative practices.
o This panel will feature an in-depth discussion of restorative justice as a humanizing alternative to traditional approaches to law teaching and law practice in both criminal and civil litigation. We will demonstrate the use of teaching and healing circles in conjunction with contemplative practice as means of accomplishing our deepest goals for justice in the world.
Law is not the only profession where instructors are incorporating mindfulness and contemplative practices in creative and effective ways. This panel will offer examples from social work, medicine, and higher education and will consider the implications of these methods for the training of lawyers.
Norman Fischer will lead meditation, with instructions, and answer questions about meditation and contemplative practice.

1:40 – 3:15 p.m.

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This session will begin with an overview of the growing number of efforts to teach mindfulness in a variety of settings, including law schools, CLE, and CJE. Experienced teachers will describe course design and the integration of meditation into substantive courses. They will also exchange viewpoints on how law teachers benefit from the practice of mindfulness, and on why it is important for students to learn mindfulness as a central component of their legal education.

4:15 – 5:45 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions

This panel explores two questions. First, how can mindfulness practices help lawyers who see their work as fostering social justice? Social justice lawyers may find themselves adopting an adversarial mindset and pessimism, if not cynicism, about the possibilities of progressive social change. Mindfulness practices may help lawyers avoid burn-out and learn to soften their hearts and open themselves to hope, while still permitting zealous advocacy. Second, what is the connection, if any, between mindful lawyering for social justice and pathways toward social change such as nonviolent resistance and organizing for "people power"? Is law and the legal system an obstacle or an aid in achieving real and lasting institutional change for the better?
This interactive session will focus on the variety of ways to integrate mindfulness meditation and mindful awareness into law schools. We will attend to how a professor’s mindful awareness can affect her or his teaching as well as how to infuse mindful awareness into courses (traditional, clinical, and specially designed) and academic support and other co-curricular activities.
What are the relationships between mindfulness and other contemplative practices and the religious or spiritual traditions in which they originated? Is it problematic for mindfulness techniques to be taught without links to explicit moral and ethical frameworks? From whence are such substantive values to be derived? These questions have significant implications for how mindfulness is "marketed"/presented/framed – that is, for how it is disseminated in law schools and to the bar. There are legal implications, too: the Establishment Clause constrains the promotion of "religion" in public institutions.
This panel will feature a discussion of the links between mindfulness and other contemplative practices and emotional and social intelligence. Panelists will discuss the benefits of mindfulness in helping legal professionals develop emotional and social intelligence skills that are essential to effective legal work.
In this session participants will learn contemplative methods for working with fear, anxiety, and nervousness. The techniques will be accessible in real life situations and in real time, allowing participants to relate to this common experience in a practical way so as to gain mastery over fear and its common side effects.
7:00 – 10:0 p.m.
Dinner Program at the Bancroft Hotel

This dinner will give participants a chance to relax and share good food and reflections on the program in an informal setting. We are also pleased to present two contemplative performances – "Crazy Wisdom" – a reflective monologue performance by Buddhist teacher and performer Wes Nisker; and a concert of ancient melody and rhythms highlighting the Persian, Turkish, and Arabic contemplative music traditions, led by national performer Eliyahu Sills.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

7:30 – 8:00 a.m.
Optional Meditation in Room 105, led by Norman Fischer

8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

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In this Plenary, we will explore the benefits of contemplative practice from the perspective of those on the front lines in our system of law and justice: judges and lawyers. Experienced judges and lawyers will describe how the movement for contemplative practice in law looks from their perspective. They will also describe how particular contemplative practices have assisted them in their daily lives.

10:15 – 11:30 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions

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Compared to other disciplines, both law students and practicing lawyers have alarming rates of stress, depression, and substance abuse, all of which negatively impact both health and professional functioning. The good news is that mindfulness meditation can help to alleviate these conditions. The panelists will describe the scope of the problems, and will summarize the research demonstrating the ameliorating efficacy of mindfulness.

An important lawyering skill that is seldom taught in classrooms is the ability to represent clients with very different social backgrounds and life histories. Simply by virtue of holding a law license, lawyers exercise authority and power over their clients. This power differential is exacerbated when the client and the lawyer find themselves differently situated in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, class, or other identity. This panel explores how mindfulness practices can help lawyers become aware of and work with their professional privilege and any identity privileges they may have in ways that foster trusting lawyer-client relationships and right action.
o Some practicing attorneys have found that their mindfulness practice has led them to innovative approaches to legal doctrine in their law work. Some scholars have begun reconsidering doctrinal areas of law in light of the mindfulness perspective. This panel will consider the ways that legal doctrine and public policy can be transformed by mindfulness practice, in areas ranging from torts to environmental law. Public policies which facilitate mindfulness training will also be discussed.
This session will introduce and give participants experience in using the "Taking STOCK" exercise developed by Len Riskin and Rachel Wohl and used in teaching and training programs that integrate mindful awareness with a variety of lawyering skills. It is a systematic method for quickly developing and deploying various degrees of mindful awareness before, during, and after virtually any lawyering activity.
Mindfulness is the art of self-awareness and regulation of attention. In this practice session, we will practice silent sitting meditation, with instructions, and have an opportunity for discussion. The session is suitable for beginners and seasoned practitioners.
12:45 – 1:55 p.m.

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This plenary will explain, demonstrate and explore various ways in which meditation and mindful awareness have been - and might be - introduced into training and practice in negotiation and mediation. It will examine the motives, goals, and methods used by leaders in a number of exemplary efforts. The information presented will be relevant to all lawyers, not just specialists in alternative dispute resolution.

2:05 – 3:20 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions

o Some judges who regularly practice meditation have brought the fruits from that practice into their professional lives. Come hear some present and former judges reflect on their experiences bringing a meditative perspective to the bench, including both the impact on their work as judges and the effects of a meditative perspective on the processes in the courtroom. They will discuss the way meditation can make the lawyers' experience in the judicial process more effective, less stressful, and happier; and will discuss the ways in which a mindful courtroom can improve the quality of litigants' experience. They will also consider the possibilities for mindfulness to transform the judicial process.
This panel will present concrete ways that mindfulness supports the practicing lawyer. We’ll have a roundtable discussion about what it's like to be a mindful lawyer and some useful tips for incorporating mindfulness into your law practice. All panelists are practicing lawyers who are also long-time meditation practitioners and have led meditation-based programs for other legal professionals.
In this panel, a group of current law students and recent law school graduates will discuss the impact that practicing meditation, taking a meditation-based law school course, and/or joining a meditation group can have on the law school experience. They will reflect on the ways that meditation has helped them to stay centered and healthy while managing a demanding and stressful education, to remain connected with their purpose for coming to law school, and to prepare for the challenge of maintaining a mindful and sustainable law practice. There will be room for questions and discussion.
This session will focus on why and how Norman Fischer, Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein introduce mindful awareness and self-reflection into training programs in Understanding-Based Mediation, an approach to mediation developed by Friedman and Himmelstein and explicated in their book, Challenging Conflict: Mediation through Understanding (2008 ABA & Harvard PON). It will also include comments by Ran Kuttner and an explanation of his own approach to teaching conflict resolution from a Buddhist perspective.
o Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a practical, hands-on approach to mindfulness meditation which began 30 years ago at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness with well-known author Jon Kabat-Zinn, and was featured in the Bill Moyers PBS series "Healing and the Mind". While numerous clinical studies have continued to show the effectiveness of MBSR in helping people heal from a whole range of difficult-to-treat medical conditions from heart disease to psoriasis to chronic pain, this type of mindfulness training is available to, and can benefit, anyone. We will look at the basic principles of MBSR, spend some time practicing mindfulness, explore the applications of mindfulness in our legal work, and discuss the difficulties and benefits of mindfulness practice in the busy lives of legal professionals. This session will include time for conversation in small groups so that participants will have the opportunity to connect on an individual level.
3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

We will reflect on the conversations and ideas generated during the conference, and we will brainstorm ideas for moving forward into the future. We will end with a brief closing to honor our time spent together.