Purpose and Values
Purpose and Values guide integrative lawyers. By aligning with their own intrinsic principles, integrative lawyers remain intrinsically motivated, and act with the integrity required of our profession, and for the well-being of society.
In my early law practice, I was working with a coach when I identified myself as a Peacemaker…and then I wondered how in the world could I design a law practice based on that? The question led me to explore not only my own purpose and values, but those of my clients. I added questions to my intake forms, such as: What are your most cherished values? Knowing this, I was much better able to represent what was important to my client, not just what he could get in a case, but what would reflect what he actually wanted.
Integrative lawyers are inclined to believe that integrity is vital to the wellbeing of themselves and society. They encourage integrity in their clients’ matters. We do have some values in common: listening, compassion, dignity, inclusivity, being relational, happiness, well being, and love. We’re inclined to focus on the future. Our values have influenced what we do and how we practice.
Our values tend to be intrinsic, not extrinsic. Research has shown that the law school ethos tends to sway students toward valuing the prestige of a big law partnership with its corner office. Integrative lawyers seek to align with important intrinsic principles that guide their lives and how they practice law.
Many lawyers have consciously chosen a value as the core operating principle of their law practices.
Estate-planning lawyer Sean Mason of California was doing some personal transformation work when he created his life purpose as Love. He began to tell people that the purpose of his law firm was to help his clients show their love for those who are most important to them. He even put his purpose on his website.
Concerned about the potential impact of talking openly about love, he kept close financial records. He earned 70% more money the first year and greatly improved his quality of life and the lives of his clients.
Marque Lawyers in Sydney, Australia was founded by lawyers who had reached the peak of successful careers, only to find that they were not happy. They left their traditional firms and created a new law firm with the purpose of happiness. One of the first things that was on their to-do list: doing away with the billable hour. They’ve been leaders in fixed fee services in Australia. The Happiness purpose has extended to even the design of their offices. There is no corner office. Rather, office spaces are assigned by lottery. They work in an open plan. The centerpiece of their office is a coffee bar and there are informal places to sit scattered around the office. They invite artists to be in residence, because they find it useful and entertaining to hang out with creative people. They are the only law firm to conduct an entire hiring campaign by Twitter.