Can A Lawyer Be A Peacemaker?

March 10, 2015

Below are quotes from mentors who inspire me every day about what it means to be a Peacemaker.


“A peacemaker is ‘one who makes peace, especially by reconciling parties in conflict.’ Reconciliation is defined as restoring or creating harmony in the family.


Peacemaking is not a process but a set of values, personal attributes, goals and behaviors that guide our work.  Peacemakers attempt to create a sense of personal peace and mindfulness and harness their core values and strongest personal attributes.


It is not the type of work you do, the population that you serve, or your area of concentration that is more or less peace-worthy.  It is your commitment to improve yourself and those whom you touch, as well as to use your work to make a broader difference in people’s lives.  These are the defining characteristics of a peacemaker.


Family lawyer peacemakers come from all backgrounds, have very diverse personalities, and offer services ranging from litigator to parent educator. Being a peacemaker is not defined by what role one plays in helping families but by how one provides reconciliation and harmony in interactions with clients, colleagues, opposing parties, children, and other members of the family, judges, court staff, witnesses, experts, and many others.


In other words, the core values that the lawyer brings to work as a family lawyer define whether one is a peacemaker.”  Woody Mosten


“Peacemaking is a complicated concept because peace can be defined in so many different ways. For our purposes, peacemaking is not a process of passive acceptance of mistreatment, a turning of the other cheek in the face of clear injustice or abuse, or other weak images of meekness or nonresistance. Instead, peacemaking is a vibrant, powerful concept.


At its best, peacemaking creates relational and structural justice that allows for social and personal well-being. This is an ideal objective, perhaps not attainable in all conflicts. Nevertheless, peacemaking implies the use of cooperative, constructive processes to resolve human conflicts, while restoring relationships.


Peacemaking does not deny the essential need for adversary processes, but peacemaking places adversary processes into a larger perspective. Litigating disputes is not seen as a primary dispute resolution mechanism, but as a last-resort process.


So peacemaking concerns a deeper way of looking at conflicts than just winning or losing. It looks at conflicts as opportunities for people to grow, to accept responsibility for the relationships they are in, and for the potential of apology and forgiveness.


Idealistic? Not at all!


Time after time, when people are placed in a safe and secure environment, they naturally seek out their capacity for goodness. Even the most cynical, hardened business people have recognized the importance of relationships when they are invited and allowed to do so. We don’t see this side of people often only because they are not given the space, safety and security to express their anger, their true concerns and their interests. Furthermore, they are not placed in a position where they can honestly listen and hear the perspectives of others.


Perhaps the greatest difference between peacemaking and other forms of conflict resolution is that opportunities for exploitation are taken away. Once the fear of vulnerability is neutralized, people can aspire to their higher good and really find excellent solutions to their conflicts.”  Douglas Noll


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