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Lawyers who heal?

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Slowly, Holland also began loathing the tough examinations - filled with "provoking, humiliating, and embarrassing the witnesses" - that she was so good at. "I realized, as many of us do, that practicing law that way is horrible and harsh."

Today, as president of the Renaissance Lawyers Society - an organization that supports and educates about holistic law - Holland works out of an old two-story stone house office overlooking a courtyard filled with azalea bushes, and practices in a very different way.

Recently, for example, a client wanted to sue the boss who had suspended him for wearing a T-shirt with an inappropriate message printed on it. The client (working in an office with a dress code) did not have a case, says Holland - but he did have a problem she could help with.

"I look at facts and law, as any lawyer would, but I also take into account other factors, and try to understand a whole person," she says. "I tried to figure out exactly what he had been trying to convey with that T-shirt. He was clearly angry with his boss, but why?"

Holland ended up talking to the client at great length about his emotions. The two role-played and discussed how he might resolve his anger, get professional emotional help, and better his working life. He went home, she says, satisfied.

Other holistic lawyers speak of getting clients facing drunk-driving charges to admit to drinking problems instead of trying to find them legal loopholes; of turning divorce proceedings into healing sessions; of transforming will contests into family fence-mending opportunities; and, even of making bankruptcy cases opportunities for clients to take stock of their lives.

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