1. Lawyers and the Senses: Going Beyond the Visual and Audiovisual
In various previous postings, I have mainly focused on legal visualizations (see, e.g., Colette R. Brunschwig, Producing, Analyzing, and Evaluating Legal Legal Visualizations: A Pioneering Course at the Department of Law, University of Basel, Switzerland (Jan. 31, 2012), http://community.beck.de/gruppen/forum/producing-analyzing-and-evaluating-legal-visualizations-a-pioneering-course-at-the-department-of-law-unive) and legal audiovisualizations (see, e.g., Colette R. Brunschwig, Legal Education Films for Law Students (Jun. 2, 2011), http://community.beck.de/gruppen/forum/audio-visual-law/legal-education-films-for-law-students). In other words, I explored some phenomena that could be subsumed under the law as a visual and audiovisual phenomenon within and outside the legal context.
While reading these postings, readers may have been wondering whether the law as a tactile-kinesthetic phenomenon exists at all. The answer is, yes, it does indeed exist as such. In what follows, I would like to provide you with a first glimpse of it. To continue along the "terminological" path that has been taken with "legal visualizations" and "legal audiovisualizations," I tentatively call the phenomena which could be associated with the law as a tactile-kinesthetic phenomenon legal tactile-kinesthetics.
Although there would be legal tactile-kinesthetics for law students and other target audiences in the legal context, I limit myself to examples of legal tactile-kinesthetics for lawyers, in order to tackle the following questions: First, which phenomena could be considered legal tactile-kinesthetics for lawyers? Second, why should lawyers be encouraged to practice legal tactile-kinesthetics? Third, how could they benefit from legal tactile-kinesthetics? In other words, which positive impacts might such tactile-kinesthetics have on lawyers?
Since especially the German-speaking legal community might be not familiar with the pertinent English-speaking literature, I shall cite it extensively.
2. Legal Tactile-Kinesthetics for Lawyers: New Legal Phenomena to Be Discovered
a. Mindfulness for Lawyers
The mindfulness-for-lawyers movement (see University of Florida Levin College of Law, THE INITIATIVE ON MINDFULNESS IN LAW & DISPUTE RESOLUTION, http://www.law.ufl.edu/imldr/index.shtml) proposes physical exercises for lawyers. LEONARD L. RISKIN, one of its proponents and Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law (see University of Florida Levin College of Law, FACULTY & STAFF, RISKIN, http://www.law.ufl.edu/faculty/riskin/) observes:
"Mindfulness, as I use the term, means being aware, moment-to-moment, without judgment and without commentary, of whatever passes through the sense organs and the mind–sounds, sights, bodily sensations, odors, thoughts, judgments, images, emotions. One develops the ability to be mindful through 'formal' practices, such as meditation and mindful yoga, then deploys mindfulness in everyday life" (LEONARD L. RISKIN, Awareness in Lawyering: A Primer on Paying Attention, in THE AFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL: PRACTICING LAW AS A HEALING PROFESSION, at 448-449 (Marjorie A. Silver ed., 2007); see also Len Riskin, PART 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTRG-QaY888; on mindfulness for lawyers, see generally SCOTT L. ROGERS, THE SIX-MINUTE SOLUTION: A MINDFULNESS PRIMAR FOR LAWYERS (2009)).
b. Further Legal Tactile-Kinesthetics for Lawyers
AMIRAM ELWORK, a personal coach for lawyers, physicians, and other professionals (see Brief Profile, AMIRAM ELWORK, PH.D. (2007), http://www.vorkell.com/AboutAmiramElwork.htm), suggests muscle relaxation and breathing exercises for lawyers. He describes muscle relaxation as follows:
"A typical muscle relaxation exercise is one in which you find a comfortable place to sit and begin by concentrating on your muscular tensions. The idea is to focus your total attention on your body. Start either at the top or the bottom and progressively move to the other end. Then begin tensing and relaxing each muscle group. For example, wiggle and tighten the muscles in your feet and toes for a few seconds and then release them, noticing how it feels to relax. Then, doing the same thing, progressively move up your body to the other muscle areas, such as those in your legs, hips, stomach, back, arms, shoulders, neck and, finally, your head" (AMIRAM ELWORK, STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR LAWYERS 92 (2007)).
2. Why Legal Tactile-Kinesthetics for Lawyers?
RISKIN gives reasons why lawyers (should) practice mindfulness:
"Many lawyers who wish 'to practice law as a healthy, healing profession, one that the lawyer finds fulfilling and rewarding and that is beneficial and therapeutic for the client' could face at least two problems. The first is the dominance of a narrow mindset– . . . –that governs much of legal education and many aspects of law practice. The second is the natural tendency of the human mind–. . . –to get distracted and to focus excessively on the self. These problems combine to make it difficult for many lawyers to be sufficiently 'present'– mentally and emotionally –with their clients, their counterparts, and themselves, to practice law in the ways envisioned in this book" (Ibid.,447). In an interview available online, Riskin states that lawyers experience a lot of stress (see Len Riskin, PART 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiCQxGY_PKk&feature=related). Thus, stress would be another reason for practicing mindfulness (On lawyer stress, see also Rhonda V. Magee, Educating Lawyers to Meditate, 79 UMKC L. REV. 535-536 (2011)).
ELWORK vividly describes a law-practice situation that urgently calls for legal tactile kinesthetics:
"Imagine that it is two o'clock in the afternoon. The phone has been interrupting you all day. You have been insulted numerous times, and you just cannot seem to concentrate on the brief that is due tomorrow morning. You don't have the time to ponder the meaning of it all, and just saying 'relax' to yourself is not going to work. What you need is a fast way to calm down. This is a good time to use relaxation exercises" (Amiram Elwork, Stress Management for Lawyers 91 (2007)).
3. Positive Impacts of Legal Tactile-Kinesthetics on Lawyers
According to RISKIN, "mindfulness can enable the lawyer to deal better with stress and to develop a calm state of mind that will foster the ability to think clearly. Second, it can permit the lawyer to deal more effectively with distractions so that he can listen carefully and otherwise pay attention to–that is, be 'present' with–his work and his client. Such a presence not only allows the lawyer to learn more about the client; this form of non-judgmental attention often can help 'heal' the client– . . . " (LEONARD L. RISKIN, Awareness in Lawyering: A Primer on Paying Attention, in THE AFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL: PRACTICING LAW AS A HEALING PROFESSION, at 449 (Marjorie A. Silver ed., 2007; see also Len Riskin, PART 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiCQxGY_PKk&feature=related).
RHONDA V. MAGEE, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and President of the Board of Directors at the Center of Contemplative Mind in Society (see University of San Francisco, School of Law, FACULTY, RHONDA V. MAGEE, http://www.usfca.edu/law/faculty/rhonda_magee/, and The Center of Contemplative Mind in Society, ABOUT US, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, http://www.contemplativemind.org/about/board.html) notes:
"With regard to the benefits of the particular contemplative practice of mindfulness or mindfulness meditation, research is ongoing but so far indicates a number of specific positive effects. For example, numerous scientifically-controlled research studies confirm that mindfulness meditation increases positive feeling and reduces anxiety; one study also shows increased brain and immune functioning following an eight-week introduction to mindfulness through a training program styled after a popular model for application to medical patients" (Rhonda V. Magee, Educating Lawyers to Meditate, 79 UMKC L. REV. 541 (2011)).
ELWORK asserts that "relaxation exercises . . . provide effective temporary relief of stress symptoms, such as negative thoughts and emotions, muscle tension, upset stomach, and high blood pressure" (AMIRAM ELWORK: STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR LAWYERS 91 (2007)).
DAVID A. SOUSA, an international consultant in educational neuroscience (see Corwin, A Sage Company, AUTHORS, DAVID A. SOUSA, http://www.corwin.com/authors/505118) advises lawyers to move:
"Sitting slows your thinking. When you sit for more than 30 minutes, the blood in your body begins to pool in two places: your feet and your seat. Blood that is pooled is not doing your brain any good. Once you get up and start walking, your calf muscles alternately contract and relax, breaking up these pools. In less than a minute of walking, you will have about 15 percent more blood in the brain. That means 15 percent more oxygen and glucose, thereby increasing the brain's fuel supply and efficiency" (DAVID A. SOUSA, HOW BRAIN SCIENCE CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER LAWYER 42-43 (2009)).
Even more specifically, SOUSA recommends: "If you have important questions or make decisions, do not remain seated. Above all, do not sit with your feet on the desk because now the blood is going to the part of your body that ought not be making the decision. Instead, get up and move around while thinking your decision. . . . Once again, moving around increases the blood flow to the brain and increases the likelihood that you will make a better decision. We do think better on our feet than on our seat!" (Ibid., 43).
Apropos, the American Bar Association is the copyright holder of How Brain Science Can Make You a Better Lawyer. This piece of information is addressed to those readers who might still doubt the validity of SOUSA's advice, since they stem from a non-lawyer.
4. Closing Remarks
This posting has tried to answer the following questions: First, what could be considered legal tactile-kinesthetics for lawyers? Second, why should lawyers be encouraged to practice legal tactile-kinesthetics? Third, what positive impacts might these have on lawyers? Hopefully, this posting has outlined preliminary answers to these questions. I would recommend not only the German-speaking legal community to adopt these highly beneficial insights but legal professionals worldwide.
Why subsume "mindfulness" and "muscle relaxation" for lawyers, and so forth, under the new and therefore probably strange sounding term "legal tactile-kinesthetics"? All these already established terms relate to rather isolated tactile-kinesthetic phenomena within the legal context (lawyering, judging, legal training, and so forth). Moreover, these phenomena stem from different subject-specific backgrounds. "Legal Tactile-Kinesthetics" would, however, have the benefit of serving as an overarching and possibly neutral term for all these phenomena. In addition, the term would fit legal visualizations and legal audiovisualizations perfectly (and logically), because these terms and the phenomena they refer to are also anchored in the senses.
Now it could be argued that, for instance, mindfulness for lawyers encompasses much more than "just" the senses. That may be true. Practicing mindfulness we (would) need to observe and consider emotions, thoughts, and judgments as well. It is perhaps banal to say that each term that we introduce into scholarly discourse has to "struggle" with its own semantic limitations. That might be down to the imperfection of language both in general and in particular. This posting has, and I hasten to add this, sought to demonstrate that legal tactile-kinesthetics for lawyers involve much more than "just" the tactile-kinesthetic senses of lawyers.
(Please note: all websites were last accessed on March 2, 2012.)