At the Heart of Conscious Contracts
J Kim Wright is a pioneer of our times. With many others, she is imagining and creating the legal system for the emerging world ranging from conscious contracts to integrative law. In this world, lawyers are peacemakers, problem-solvers, and healers of conflicts; agents of transformation with their clients.
Integrative law is simply law + heart that integrates universal values like humanity, compassion, love, integrity and dignity. There is an underlying awareness in the legal profession that collaboration and cooperation are more workable than divisiveness and polarization
The vision for 2045 is that “lawyers are recognized for our true purposes: peacemaking, problem-solving and healing the wounds of the community. We are agents of transformation with our clients, helping each to use conflict as an opportunity for transformation and to access greater synergy and creativity. We create sustainable agreements and resolutions. Trials are rare and civil. Collaboration, prevention, and compassionate listening are the lawyers’ stock in trade.”
Kim is part of the growing seven percent of the eight billion billion on the planet who are creating the new world. She is a visionary paving the way with others, like Resolutionary Stewart Levine, to create healthy and just systems for where we are headed. More and more people are stepping into our power on the edges to usher in a more humane era of understanding and cooperation.
In Kim’s words,”For many years, lawyers have been creating new models and approaches to legal issues. Most of us have been seen as unusual or even weird by our colleagues. We’ve often heard, “I thought I was alone!” when we’ve connected with these courageous trailblazers.”
The Journey of Discovery
When Kim graduated from law school, she did not want to be a traditional lawyer. Her path crossed with Forrest Bayard, a Chicago collaborative lawyer, who focused on granting dignity to everyone involved in a legal matter. He was a family lawyer who helped his divorce clients remain friends so they could raise their children amicably as co-parents.
Lawyers could make a huge difference with their influence in politics, business, and personal relationships, They could be agents of transformation in the world. Kim found herself inspired to transform herself and the legal profession.
She describes herself as a holistic lawyer, collaborative practitioner, restorative justice educator and mediator. Transforming the law has been foundational for her. Simplifying law meant writing in plain English and not being in the billable hour game for over twenty years.
Becoming a digital nomad in 2008 meant no longer owning a home or having a physical office. It allowed for global travel where she could meet other lawyers building this new paradigm. Kim connected deeply with this new generation of practitioners and began sharing their stories online.
Kim was also asked to author a book by the American Bar Association and published, Lawyers as Peacemakers in 2010, and in 2016, she released Lawyers as Changemakers. She has a number of book collaborations coming out this year, including Lawyers as Designers and Trauma-Informed Law.
The American Bar Association named Kim as one of the Legal Rebels “finding new ways to practice law, represent their clients, adjudicate cases and train the next generation of lawyers.”
Learning to live with uncertainty, helped Kim create a direction, but not to be rigid in her plans. She learned that there is magic in surrendering to what wants to happen in the moment.
Conscious Contracts Are Based on Valued Relationships
Kim co-created the Conscious Contracts® model, with Alalá Linda. This model puts relationships at the heart of agreements. This process provides a framework for authentic communication, connection, clarity, and relationship design. Conscious Contracts also brings people together to collaborate, tap into everyone’s creativity and create a unique agreement. And that means that the contract is a living document to guide day to day activities.
As a result, hundreds of lawyers and practitioners working in 20 languages on five continents have been trained. Kim also partnered on a curriculum on integrative law, launched in seven law schools in South Africa.
Integrative law, in Kim’s words, “has to do with a fundamental shift in worldview, an expansion of what we think is possible. Integrative lawyers explore and draw upon many disciplines and wisdom traditions, such as philosophy, science, psychology and spirituality. They bring their consciousness into the law and are partners with colleagues in other disciplines.”
The Future is Now
Integrative law is based on the values of the future, and law students, more than anyone, need to be prepared for what is coming. For many law students, learning about the new approaches helps them want to practice law. Imagine Integrative Law being recognized as a more desirable option for clients, lawyers, and humanity.
Kim is one of the many incredible beings on our planet that is creating new models for all of us. She embodies the words of R. Buckminster Fuller, “In order to change an existing paradigm, you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called.”
And in a world where we trek into the unknown and uncertainty, trusting our hearts, so much is possible when we remember our power and care deeply. Dialogue and connection are our allies.
At the core, we build trust with ourselves and each other. There is another way when we open ourselves to building a healthy world. We have everything we need.