Maria Claudia Perego, Iacopo Savi and Adriana Brosca are all part of the growing community of integrative lawyers in Italy. As a group, they get together at workshops or through professional practices to learn from, and inspire, each other. They say: “This platform connects us to a wider community beyond our geographical borders and it is nice to be part of a larger community of conflict resolution professionals who want to improve the service we offer to our clients and our relationships with colleagues.”
As conflict resolution experts and lawyers, we share a great sense of curiosity. We became curious about our tendency towards curiosity, which has led us to examine this characteristic and to see if it is a factor in the approach we take toward our legal practice.
To be ‘curious’ is defined as ‘a strong desire to know or learn something.’ The three of us can relate to this definition as we were not satisfied with the traditional legal approach that placed the law in the front and centre and shifted the client’s life and well-being to the side lines.
Inspired by our curiosity, and desire to try something different, we started to explore new and creative ways to be lawyers, with our shared goal being to put our clients in the front and centre of our everyday practice, using a combination of skills.
Iacopo Savi: “I was never completely sold on the idea that the lawyer works better if he has ‘clear objectives’, taking on the responsibility of solving client’s problems within the framework of rational law. For a long time I had the feeling and the perception that something was missing, that my skills were not really being put to good use or making a real impact.
I am an extremely curious person by nature and I had to follow my gut feeling, which was to look for the missing piece or rather, I had to broaden my horizons and expand the profile of my professional practice.
After all, curiosity is the ability to realise that behind the experience, however tiring, is serene wisdom, and beyond the information, however cold, is warmth of knowledge. In addition, behind the law there are human beings with their complexities and multiple facets.
Thus, life is a mix of facts, situations, experiences, emotions and many other variable elements, all connected and interdependent, setting off constant change. Legal issues and legal problems are not separate experiences, compartmentalised from other human experiences. Legal events are parts of this change.
As a coach, I have often wondered what would happen if I, as a lawyer, played the role of catalyst for positive change for my clients. The answer I came up with filled the gap that I was feeling and widened my horizons.
I started looking at things from a different point of view and enhancing my expertise with the mindset and the strategies of coaching, in the attempt to help clients see issues as opportunities for personal growth, through clarity of intent and will, by taking responsibility for their own choices and taking action to achieve their own goals.
I now can see that as the lawyer I do not in fact work better if I have clear objectives. Rather I am more effective when I help my clients identify their own clear objectives and become aware of the results they can achieve.”
Adriana Brosca: “In my practice as a lawyer I sensed an evolution that has recently affected the legal profession. The role a lawyer plays in society today seems to be different from the role we had before. One of the positive aspects is that a lawyer today may speak more directly to clients, and may even ask questions about their personal lives that clients were not necessarily prepared to answer before when their perception of a lawyer was that of a mere ‘technician’ dealing only with the juridical aspect of the facts. [And this perception was correct: lawyers would filter all information coming from the client and retain only the juridical implications.]
These days lawyers can create a different and more empathetic rapport with clients. They can investigate their goals, their feelings and their motivations. This often leads to the realisation that the legal options clients come in to request are, in fact, not what they really want or need. We often come to the conclusion that clients may underestimate the consequences of their actions, they may fail to consider how their world or life would really change after the result is achieved, or they may just not think of the impact on third parties, however closely connected to them. My preference is closely related with what Iacopo is pointing towards. That is, working together with clients to figure out their objectives.”
Maria Claudia Perego: “In my personal life, my curiosity led me to explore other disciplines such as sociology, anthropology and psychology. It is also why I am an avid reader of books on the spiritual aspects of life. In my professional life, I have always tried to be very rational and to think “like a lawyer”. But this meant that my life was split in two: a personal one full of varying interests and curiosity, and a professional one which is more rational and logic, but in actual fact very unsatisfying.
One day in a probate matter I felt that the main problem of the family I was working with was not a legal one but a relational one. There was extreme confusion in the roles and relationships between all parties involved. That is when I tried to do something different from my usual approach, I explored the family dynamics using the map system, with the focus to clarify the relationships between all the family members and their roles. In that exact moment curiosity helped me connect my private interests to my professional life.”
All these ideas and learning in the course of our respective practices have lead us to adopting an integrative approach to law. In our view, an integrative approach involves focusing to scan different options, clarifying steps, and then asking for specific advice. In some areas of law, we will call on the assistance of different professionals to assist us to to plan the path the client has consciously chosen and is willing to walk.
We three have explored the legal profession in different ways, but all of these ways have brought us to the common idea that curiosity is powerful. Being curious helps bridge the gap between our professional and personal life, and serve our clients with integrated skills.
Being curious means having an open approach to each aspect of life and trying to see beyond our personal bias; it means being able to explore different approaches and points of view, and to embrace them with an open heart.
MARIA CLAUDIA PEREGO is an integrative and collaborative lawyer, civil and commercial mediator, and negotiator. She adheres to a new professional approach, whose main purpose is to provide the client with a consultancy activity that is not limited to considering the positive aspects of the dispute, but also aimed at helping him manage and / or prevent conflict in many of its aspects. She is a speaker at conferences and training courses for lawyers and professionals interested in managing conflict dynamics, she creates training courses for the diffusion in Italy of the Integrative Law movement.
IACOPO SAVI is a Lawyer, Coach, Trainer and Father of two girls. For more than a decade he has worked as a lawyer specializing in constructive conflict management (Family, Civil and Commercial Mediator), negotiation and collaborative law. He is a trainer in Civil Mediation accredited by the Ministry of Justice and has held training courses in constructive management of conflicts in high schools in the Milanese Hinterland. He is also a Performance Coach specialized in negotiation and constructive conflict management and effective learning techniques.
ADRIANA BROSCA is a lawyer from Varese, Italy specialising in family and commercial law. She has been a lawyer for 25 years and has recently started to study coaching at Karakter School for Coaching. Most recently she has begun to explore the integrative law movement and is also building coaching tools into her daily legal practice.