Integrating Spiritual Perspectives with the Law School Experience: An Essay and an Invitation
45 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2000
Reports of burn-out, disillusionment, and stress abound in modern literature as the legal profession faces a period of rapid change and sobering self-reflection on the ways in which it should operate as an honorable and noble profession.
In a seemingly unrelated development, there is a steadily growing interest in the spirituality of modern professional life. As those in other fields have also grappled with both outward critique and inward self-reflection, the past several years have seen a renewed interest in the spiritual aspects of worldly occupations. As time goes on and interest in spirituality and professional life increases, the legal profession - and, therefore, law schools - may inevitably join other professions in considering the place of spirituality within their institutional life.
This Essay will reflect on the ways in which the traditional life of law schools may be colored by a new emphasis on spirituality. This Essay will not delve into an extensive theological thesis about the definition of spirituality or the practical and philosophical nuances of the spiritual life. Rather, the pages that follow are an invitation to begin a discussion of spirituality within the life of American law schools. This Essay begins with a discussion of spirituality in professional life generally.
It is against this backdrop that the Essay will then move to a more particularized discussion of spirituality in the context of law practice and legal education. Specifically, it will draw attention to some of the complexities of the legal profession that may make it particularly difficult to incorporate spiritual perspectives in this arena. Law schools - like the legal profession generally - face particular problems when they attempt to integrate spirituality in law school life. At first, the blend of law study and spiritual pursuits may appear to be an incompatible one; the Essay will explore some of the reasons for this perceived or real incompatibility. It will then offer some concrete suggestions - with no simple formula! - for integrating spiritual perspectives in law school. It ends with an invitation to pursue the spiritual life of law school, and welcome the benefits it brings.
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