We’re lawyering in the liminal. It’s my new favourite word to describe the weirdness of now, living in between “what was” and “what will be”. I’m curious what you’re using to cope? Overwork? Alcohol? Exercise? Meditation? Medication?
In 2014 I wrote an article called Outlaws and Outliers that was published in the groundbreaking Lawyers as Changemakers by J Kim Wright, my friend and colleague. It starts like this:
It’s a fascinating time or a terrifying time to be alive, or maybe both, depending on your worldview. We have front row seats, as a result of unprecedented technological acceleration, to watch the demise of all our major systems including the monetary system, education system, medical system, legal system and underneath it all, the ecological system.
To gaze head-on at the magnitude of the systems collapse is overwhelming. We lack perspective situated as we are, in the middle of the storm. We also feel overwhelmed because we’re culturally indoctrinated, at least in the West, to see destruction as a bad thing.
It was written in 2014 but could have been written today except that 2020 accelerated the collapse of our systems in unprecedented ways. So here we are, even closer to systems collapse, in this liminal space. And it’s pretty terrifying.
The word liminal comes from the Latin word limens, which means “limit or threshold.” Wikipedia defines it as:
“… the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which completing the rite establishes…
During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt. The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.”
Whatever you thought your life might look like in 5 years’ time, I bet you’re no longer so sure. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. In fact I think if you’re not, you’re not paying attention. But the overwhelm can prevent us seeing what is more important: that what we have is a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.
The old world is gone and the new one is not yet here. It’s chaotic and of course our temptation is simply to distract ourselves from the pain and confusion. I find I am busier than ever before but slowly I am seeing that is a choice. What I have also chosen is to re-birth how I offer myself to the world and that has meant embracing the fact I work in the intersection of law and spirituality.
I am here to work with Awakening Lawyers: [n. pl] lawyers on a spiritual journey, helping the new legal system emerge by being peacemakers, justice warriors and activists for social change. I believe there are more awakening lawyers than ever before. I think we need to stand up and be counted. My call is that we stop busying ourselves and do the work that matters: imagine a different future and become the lawyers capable of making it happen.
You’ve probably been taught to wear a professional mask and hide who you really are and how you feel. But the stories inside you matter because who a lawyer is matters as much as the power of the lawyer’s intellect.
It is time that lawyers unleash ALL of who we are, not just our intellects.
You may have heard so often that it sounds cliched, “you cannot solve a problem at the level of consciousness that created it”. But you may not know what it’s telling lawyers is this: we need to hold the legal issue at a higher level of consciousness than the clients are able to, so that we can envision a future they don’t yet know is possible. This is as true for divorce attorneys as it is for M&A practitioners. It takes work on our part.
Are you awakening to the fact conflict can be transformative?
Are you awakening to your role as a lawyer perhaps being quite different to the one you were sold back when you graduated?
Are you awakening to a specific purpose you may have in the law that only you can fulfil?
Are you awakening to being a legal changemaker?
I would love to connect with awakening lawyers in this chaotic, messy, beautiful time of re-creating ourselves to create a different future. I would love to introduce you to tools and practices that may help, and a community of lawyers who will support you as you transform.
Amanda Lamond is a Legal Futurist, Soul Coach and Spiritual Channel. She has worked as an attorney, a law lecturer, a director of a non-profit college for impoverished students, a facilitator of corporate leadership programs, an organizational development consultant and an entrepreneur providing training and conferences for lawyers. She says: “I have challenged the status quo in everything I have done and endeavoured to leave a truer and more beautiful version of what is possible in my wake.”