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Lawyers who heal?

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"How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "Fifty four," goes the joke. "Eight to argue, one to get a continuance, one to object, one to demur, two to research precedents, one to dictate a letter, one to stipulate, five to turn in their timecards, one to depose, one to write interrogatories, two to settle, one to order a secretary to change the bulb, and 29 to bill for professional services."

Eh, not so funny, notes Maurine Holland, a lawyer in midtown Memphis, Tenn. - and it has nothing to do with her anymore. Yes, she is a lawyer. But not that kind.

"People would call me the pit bull," recalls Ms. Holland of her life in the courtroom up until a few years ago. "But then I had a transformation."

Holland's transformation has led her to join a small but growing group of lawyers, judges, and educators who practice law holistically - working to empower and heal themselves and their clients and to spread civility and good will. In the world of holistic law, the minds and bodies of the clients are as important as their pocketbooks; losing sometimes means winning in the long run; and words like blame, right, and wrong have no home. It is not, in any case, 54 lawyers around a light bulb.

While each holistic lawyer works in a different way, they draw common inspiration from Eastern traditions, New Age writers, and native American spirituality. Much like holistic doctors who seek to treat the whole patient instead of the symptoms, explains Holland, holistic lawyers think of their clients as complex people in need of counseling, not entities with narrow legal problems.

"Before, even as I was winning lots of money for clients, I was finding they were still not happy," recalls Holland. "My clients were getting compensation - but the anger remained," she says. "So, had I helped?"


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