Dean Susan Brooks’ article, “Mindful Engagement and Relational Lawyering,” was recently published in volume 48 of the Southwestern Law Review. In the article, Brooks focuses on how mindful engagement can be taught and supported in legal education and law practice, and how such teaching can improve both the legal profession and those it serves.
Brooks defines mindful engagement as the space in which the practice of mindfulness meets that of relational lawyering. Relational lawyering seeks to move beyond adversarial legal practice into the creation of collaborative and mutually respectful relationships, while mindfulness is a meditation practice focused on “being more present, accepting, compassionate, kind, and curious toward themselves and others.”
The goal of mindful engagement is, according to Brooks, to cultivate the habits and practices of mindfulness in relational lawyering without requiring the formal meditation practice. In particular, she looks at how three “’fields of transformation’: the [intra]personal, the interpersonal, and the systemic” can be used as a framework for teaching mindful engagement. Her article discusses the methods used and results obtained by teaching these tools to a 1L class and proposes further avenues of exploration.
The associate dean of experiential learning, Brooks is an internationally recognized leader in incorporating hands-on learning in legal education. As both an attorney and a social worker, she is committed to promoting a sense of mutuality and connectedness that will enable students to serve as effective and healthy practitioners.