Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

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legallybuddhist
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby legallybuddhist » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:37 pm

Hello again,

Well after meeting a like minded Buddhist lawyer yesterday, I've set up http://www.buddhistlawyers.org.uk

We're currently putting together an article on whether one can even BE a Buddhist and a lawyer! Whether it's discrete dhamma and legal practice, bringing mindfulness to everyday practice or wholehearted embodiment of the dhamma in legal work, there's no right answer.

Then there's different types of lawyer, and different types of legal work. Is a bitter, drawn-out, bet-the-company court case conducive to dhamma practice? Or, if we dig into it, are there opportunities for the dhamma to assist one or both parties in conducting the litigation?

Lawyers are uniquely placed to advise and influence on the matter they are instructed on. This involves drawing on previous professional experience, commercial awareness and legal knowledge? Would the dhamma also be an appropriate thing to draw on? There's arguments for and against (what if a client is of a different religion etc? Dhamma could invite moving towards avoiding court when litigating, making early settlement offers and conciliatory gestures may to now have been lacking etc, or going the extra mile when looking after the interests of people in a property transaction, wills/divorce/private client issues, employment matter, and greater consideration of other sentient beings and environmental impact when advising etc.)

Then there's the fact that lawyers MUST act in their client's best interests. Clearly, it won't always be possible to practice in accordance with the dhamma, and where there's a conflict, professional obligation must win out. Does this create a dilemma for devoted dhamma practitioners? Does the professional obligation mandate that the dhamma and professional practice be kept separate?

Can dhamma practice be automatically embodied in legal work without a conscious effort? Take criminal defence, for example. To that end, are certain types of legal work merely a form of the ripening of kamma, or assisting the ripening? If so, from a dhamma perspective, does that place additional obligations on a lawyer?

I'd be interested for your thoughts. There's so much on this topic, and particular specific issues, that could benefit from the unique insight and experience of legal practitioners - but that's what this new site is for!

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Ben
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:59 pm

legallybuddhist wrote:Hello again,

Well after meeting a like minded Buddhist lawyer yesterday, I've set up http://www.buddhistlawyers.org.uk

We're currently putting together an article on whether one can even BE a Buddhist and a lawyer! Whether it's discrete dhamma and legal practice, bringing mindfulness to everyday practice or wholehearted embodiment of the dhamma in legal work, there's no right answer.
Of course you can be a lawyer and a Buddhist - there's no conflict.

legallybuddhist wrote:Then there's different types of lawyer, and different types of legal work. Is a bitter, drawn-out, bet-the-company court case conducive to dhamma practice?
Why not?

legallybuddhist wrote: Or, if we dig into it, are there opportunities for the dhamma to assist one or both parties in conducting the litigation?
Yes, you've touched on mediation. But the calm and clarity that comes from practicing sila, samadhi and panna will be helpful in decision making. The slow but sure eradication of aversion, craving, and ignorance will help you to represent your client's interests with less negative mind-states clouding your mind.

legallybuddhist wrote:Lawyers are uniquely placed to advise and influence on the matter they are instructed on. This involves drawing on previous professional experience, commercial awareness and legal knowledge? Would the dhamma also be an appropriate thing to draw on?
Yes.
legallybuddhist wrote:There's arguments for and against (what if a client is of a different religion etc? Dhamma could invite moving towards avoiding court when litigating, making early settlement offers and conciliatory gestures may to now have been lacking etc, or going the extra mile when looking after the interests of people in a property transaction, wills/divorce/private client issues, employment matter, and greater consideration of other sentient beings and environmental impact when advising etc.)
I think you've answered your own question. Much of the Dhamma is universal. "There is suffering and the eradication of suffering". You could draw on the Dhamma without having to mention the "B" word to your clients. Just act in their best interests while maintaining your professional ethics and standards and your personal values as represented in the five precepts.

legallybuddhist wrote:Then there's the fact that lawyers MUST act in their client's best interests. Clearly, it won't always be possible to practice in accordance with the dhamma, and where there's a conflict, professional obligation must win out. Does this create a dilemma for devoted dhamma practitioners? Does the professional obligation mandate that the dhamma and professional practice be kept separate?
The simple rule of thumb is that everyone deserves representation regardless of who they are, what they've done or what they intend to do.

legallybuddhist wrote:Can dhamma practice be automatically embodied in legal work without a conscious effort? Take criminal defence, for example. To that end, are certain types of legal work merely a form of the ripening of kamma, or assisting the ripening? If so, from a dhamma perspective, does that place additional obligations on a lawyer?
Perhaps it is a ripening of kamma, but as I said above, everyone deserves representation, ir in the case of criminal law, a defence.

legallybuddhist wrote:I'd be interested for your thoughts. There's so much on this topic, and particular specific issues, that could benefit from the unique insight and experience of legal practitioners - but that's what this new site is for!

Good luck with establishing your network, and your new site!
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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legallybuddhist
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby legallybuddhist » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:18 pm

Some fantastic stuff to consider there Ben, thanks! I especially like:

But the calm and clarity that comes from practicing sila, samadhi and panna will be helpful in decision making. The slow but sure eradication of aversion, craving, and ignorance will help you to represent your client's interests with less negative mind-states clouding your mind.


In respect of
legallybuddhist wrote:Then there's the fact that lawyers MUST act in their client's best interests. Clearly, it won't always be possible to practice in accordance with the dhamma, and where there's a conflict, professional obligation must win out. Does this create a dilemma for devoted dhamma practitioners? Does the professional obligation mandate that the dhamma and professional practice be kept separate?
The simple rule of thumb is that everyone deserves representation regardless of who they are, what they've done or what they intend to do.

the issue here is that, going beyond criminal, we have instances where a client's instructions or needs may result in harm being caused to others (take a transaction where a company is being sold and this may result in job losses, or advising on a company seeking to reduce headcount who wish to pay out as little as possible), and whether this would cause a dilemma to a dhamma practitioner, as one must act in the client's best interests.

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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:59 pm

Hi Legallybuddhist

Yes, I concede, you are going to be confronted with some difficult ethical dilemmas. What do you do in the instance you metioned? I don't feel comfortable offering an outcome that is more 'buddhist' than another.

One way to look at it, and this may sound very hard-hearted, is that if a company acts legally to minimise its liabilities, it is doing so by using the laws of the land to protect its (and its shareholders) interests. Anyway, that is one way of looking at the situation. As a lawywer you can offer advice, but at the end of the day, you act according to the instructions of your client (or employer). If you offer advice that is in accordance with the Dhamma and is then rejected, then at least you've made an attempt to imake a positive nfluence the actions of another.

Then how does one deal with ethical dilemmas? In my own personal and professional life when I have found myself confronted with an ethical dilemma, I have sought the counsel of the suttas, the commentarial literature and kalayanamittas - as well as some degree of faith and confidence in my own experience and knowledge.

Sometimes, as Buddhists, we are forced into situations where we act in ways that are not in accordance to the precepts or the Dhamma. And that is the reality of a lay-person's life. But for those of us who are sincere practitioners, those decisions are dificult and are made only after all other avenues of a more Dhammic solution are exhausted.
Anyway, I hope that has made some sense.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby legallybuddhist » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:35 pm

I've really enjoyed this discussion Ben - this is exactly the sort of stuff I want to network with other Buddhist lawyers to consider.

A side benefit of this - I hope - is that it will serve, potentially (lawyers like to qualify everything!) to cause some lawyers to radically reassess their professional practice within the context of the dhamma.

It can be easy for some aspects of legal practice to become stale, or become disassociated or taking it for granted. Worst of all, it can become all too easy to lose the human connection, and thus compassion, virtue and generosity, towards clients, the other party and their lawyers, and those affected by the matter.

What I hope is that a spirited discussion of the dhamma, law practice and beyond between people connected in such a way will lead to a reinvigoration of one's practice, both of the dhamma and law. I hope this will charge our efforts with the energy and enthusiasm that comes with fresh perspective, or a sense of purpose, or even just a new way of going about things. Maybe for those who hadn't considered the kammic implications of their legal practice, or consciously weaving the threads of dhamma and legal practice together, this will inspire them to do so. Or for those becoming stale, jaded, cynical and disillusioned, a new way to come at things, a new lease of life in their career, with knock-on benefits to all other aspects of their life. And if we start to see, and share, experiences of the dhamma coming to life through our legal practice, then that can deepen our faith and strengthen our resolve.

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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby cooran » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:34 am

Hello legallybuddhist, all,

Nice to see your enthusiasm. :smile:

The testing of combining 'consciousness of dhamma' with professional practice goes on through the years. Dhamma knowledge is an invaluable aid, the more so after 15, 20, 25 years of practice.

However, that said, it ought not to impede your offering the same full service they would get from non-Buddhist lawyers ¬ all clients ought to be seen as ‘innocent unless proven guilty’. And they ought not even be aware of what religion you practice.

I would not like to go to a Lawyer who was colouring his legal practice with whatever his/her religious views were. This is whether he/she is Buddhist, Moslem, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Baha'i, Jain, or Rastafarian or a dozen others.

Your Law Society will have a Code of Ethics, and if you don't agree with it, then bring about changes to it. I am in a different profession (Social Work) and sometimes come up against concerning ethical issues from a Buddhist perspective (e.g. legal abortion) - but I go by the laws of the land, and try to give my clients the best service I am capable of.

The first, and perhaps the most important, thing to be said about ethics is that they cannot be reduced to rules. Ethics are not what the [lawyer] knows he or she should do: ethics are what the [lawyer] does. They are not so much learnt as lived. Ethics are the hallmark of a profession, imposing obligations more exacting than any imposed by law and incapable of adequate enforcement by legal process. If ethics were reduced merely to rules, a spiritless compliance would soon be replaced by skilful evasion.
The Lawyers’ Compass – your ethics starting point by Sir Gerard Brennan - Bar Association of Queensland, Continuing Legal Education Lectures. No. 9/92 - 3 May 1992.
http://ethics.qls.com.au/content/thelawyerscompass

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Chris
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby PeterB » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:29 am

:goodpost:


We can imagine a useful society for dentists who are Buddhists...but there are no Buddhist Dentists.
There are no Buddhist Psychotherapists
or Buddhist Electricians or
Buddhist Lawyers.

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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby legallybuddhist » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:00 pm

Excellent post cooran, I completely agree PeterB.

Cooran, regarding where you said:

I would not like to go to a Lawyer who was colouring his legal practice with whatever his/her religious views were. This is whether he/she is Buddhist, Moslem, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Baha'i, Jain, or Rastafarian or a dozen others.


I can completely understand that. And if, as you say, the client isn't aware of their lawyer's relgiious practice, the issue probably wouldn't arise.

Perhaps a re-framing is needed here. In my view, the professional obligations of lawyers will always take precedent, second only to the laws of the land themselves. I have no problems with the Code of Conduct. Instead, could perhaps an embodiment of the dhamma, at whatever level, in itself be seen either as:

a. A practice of ethical conduct that goes even beyond that stipulated in the codified Code, with no detriment to a client; and/or
b. Not 'colouring' or adversely influencing the offering of a solicitor (or, unacceptably from a professional standpoint, outright refusing to do particular things), but guiding or aiding the course of the matter, and perhaps offering new ways of resolving a dispute, or conducting a transaction, or advising on a proposal, which still accords with the ultimate aim of the client - embodied with, but not overriding, the lawyer's professional obligations and efforts to fulfill the client's instructions; and/or
c. offering a sense of perspective on matters, and conducive to the virtues and qualities that can lead to the clear-headedness and concentration that can be of great benefit in many situations.

So here, we're not advocating a 'if it's not in accordance with the dhamma, I'm going to cease acting for you/not put that option on the table/advise in a particular way' approach at all. But seeing the dhamma in an enabling, rather than restrictive, light.

One Christian book mentions the idea of re-framing how lawyers see themselves - not as warriors, but as peacemakers. If the client can see lawyers in that light too, that may have an effect on things.

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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:39 pm

Hanzze wrote:Well it is a big business... The wheel of dhamma turns in the other direction, if it is still on to turn.


From your signature:

If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples.


It is quite ironic that you quote Gandhi, who was an attorney and that you mention the prisons, ghettos, and battlefields because it is exactly from the great works by attorneys such as Gandhi that some injustices come to an end.

I can't imagine where we might be without some civil rights attorneys such as Morris Dees and many others. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Dees

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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby albertnices » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:48 am

This information is good but the all lawyers like Any Buddhist lawyers are available in UK its mandatory.
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby Mr Man » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:00 am

The Buddhist Society in London was founded by a barrister - The late Christmas Humphreys.

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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:08 pm

I have sent a link to your web site to a supporter who has runs a legal practice.
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:49 pm

Just now I received 103 spam emails from "FindLaw Newsletters."

Is this just a coincidence, or a result of visiting the linked site?
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Re: Any Buddhist lawyers out there (UK)?

Postby Bankei » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:37 pm

PeterB wrote::goodpost:


We can imagine a useful society for dentists who are Buddhists...but there are no Buddhist Dentists.
There are no Buddhist Psychotherapists
or Buddhist Electricians or
Buddhist Lawyers.


Peter,

I agree with your point, but there are Buddhist psychotherapists - its a growing subfield of psychotherapy.
-----------------------
Bankei


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