Finding Interior Peace in the Ordinary Practice of Law: Wisdom from the Spiritual Tradition of St. Teresa of Avila
Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Spring 2007
Posted: 14 Feb 2007
This article focuses on some of St. Teresa of Avila's writings, as part of a symposium series that examines how the lives of extraordinary Catholics can inform the practice of law. Against the background of Rambo litigation hoopla and the excesses of adversarial justice, scholars in the Catholic legal community such as Maryann Glendon and John Noonan have written powerfully about the need to humanize the practice of law and demonstrate greater civility in lawyering. Professional reform projects have developed at a rapid pace and we have witnessed the growth of new directions in lawyering, all aimed ultimately at helping lawyers find an interior peace that will have positive spill-over effects in their professional lives. Some of the more prominent correctives include humanistic movements such as holistic lawyering comprehensive law, therapeutic jurisprudence, preventive law, restorative justice, collaborative lawyering, transformative and narrative mediation, and mindfulness meditation.
Given the multiple legal reform projects currently underway, one might reasonably ask - why focus on a reformer of religious congregations? What could a 16th century Castilian Catholic female mystic possibly add to this reform regime? In this article I suggest that Teresa's writings on self-knowledge and humility offer a rich reservoir from the Catholic mystical and meditative tradition that have to potential to provide a deeper, fuller and more grounded foundation for transformation than the generic spirituality offered by current efforts to resolve the legal profession's vocational crisis.
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