Scholar in Residence at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California
at Berkeley, is a public interest entrepreneur, an innovator in legal
education, a pioneer in the public interest law movement, and a long-time
Empathy is a quality to be cultivated in
lawyers and the legal system
Held Mindfulness and Lawyer conference at UC
very successful, 180 attendees.
02:00 - Definition of empathy
see the world from others point of view.
make a connection with others emotionally
make connections with other's feelings is
core to me
O2:50 - Metaphor of empathy?
standing in others shoes and looking though
experiencing the others heart
a person who is deeply empathetic - also can
free themselves from their own values, perceptions, and identity. don't
feel bound by their preconceptions
being locked into your own views closes you
5:00 Wrote a article about Barack Obama,
justice and empathy?
California Daily Law Journal
Obama had made empathy an important value in
Curing the national empathy deficit.
making empathic connection is essential
I was drawn to his unusual background,
living in Indonesia, etc.
because of unusual upbringing, empathy was
important to him
Obama also said that empathy was a quality
for judges to have.
I thought - how can you select Supreme Court
thought about the way of actually doing it
people don't put empathy on their resume
how to find people who care about empathy
how do we recognize people with empathy?
how did a person spend their career
have they represented people who are
did they get out of their own framework,
Obama is example. Was Harvard law review
editor but went to represent disadvantaged
11:50 I started thinking how you find those
people and bring them forward.
create a template questionnaire for judges
create an evaluation criteria for empathy
12:40 It's a revolutionary idea
if this criteria were explored and applied,
it would have huge ramification
it would change the legal process
it would change the way we educate lawyers
legal training in law today in not a
training in empathy.
now, empathy is rather a handicap in legal
if empathy we're a criteria in selecting
legal judges, that would change.
and that would be a wonderful thing
13:30 Sounds like empathy really
spoke to you and your values?
I would trace that not to my own education
I grew up in a system with empathy deficits
High school - was competitive, analytic,
Empathy was not the way I was brought up to
didn't even realize I was living in an
environment where empathy was missing
15:00 Empathy started to grow some in
public interest law, 1970's
70's empathy was starting culturally
personally started with meditation practice,
Something about meditation that cultivates
it opens the heart
see your own emotions
see points of commonality with others
instinct to defend my ideas gets weekend
ideas are a flow and don't cling to them
all of this creates a perspective which is
empathetic at it's core
17:50 What was the inspiration to
it was to reduce stress and become
centered and grounded.
I was living a very high stressful life
I tried it and it did help
gave me a few minutes to get easier,
could identify and work off of an
empathic connection with other.
20:00 How did your empathy developed from
then to the present?
mediation was helpful,
we assembled a unique and wide variety
of law students
as I become more open and receptive, had
opportunity to connect with many people
was not liner or easy
my preconceptions didn't simply
disappear but weakened
was in dialog with a lot of more ridged
with meditation you don't have to push
away, but can let go
a great opening
23:21 Your empathy has been deepening
thought mediation and you're creating organizations around that?
Right, in early 90's created programs to
Created Center for Contemplative Mind in
bring mediation to mainstream society
and make social changes in structures,
education, law, etc.
25:50 You wanted to support Obama and his
call for more empathy. You tried to do some organizing around that?
wrote this article
can empathy become an operative
criterion for judicial selection
unfortunately that ran into a political
the republicans were critical - they
said it meant throwing away the rules and it was this vague notion
of following your heart.
Obama never meant that. he's too careful
he was thinking of a quality that would
compliment the usual kinds of virtues
analytical ability, fairness,
justice, loyalty to precedence
empathy is part of that cluster of
in Sotomayor nomination Democrats walked
away from it.
since that time empathy has
it's a victim of the intense
polarization of Washington
29:20 At present time the empathy in
judicial selection inquiry is kind of at a dead end.
until the government starts to
function in a collaborative way
the ideas I had in creating a
increasing sophistication in developing empathy is not going to
happen for the present.
I'd love to see it happen in the future,
because I'm convinced judges and lawyers perform better if they
a lawyer is a better lawyer if he has
an empathetic sense of his client
it's better lawyering
legal education is short sighted in
not framing it that way.
31:00 - In my teaching at UC Law school
I teach mediation and specifically cultivating empathy
my students just did a code of
personal and professional responsibility - and several put in 'to
practice law with empathy'
31:40 Within the court framework there's
empathy between lawyers, clients, judge, jury,. How is everyone
The lawyer who understand the importance
of connecting with everyone in the courtroom is going to make him
the process will work better if everyone
has this perspective, or if even just one person has this.
it would make it a more civil process,
that's a big deal
speaks to more just outcomes
33:30 How can we build a culture of
If we had this conversation 2 years ago
I would have been more optimist.
I thought we had a unique opportunity
because we have an empathic president.
we could disseminate the ideas through
government, corporations, education, nonprofits
they could all start identifying these
qualities and then try to disseminate them
if you are doing a new search for a
president of a university, one of the qualities we're looking for
would be empathy
I thought Obama could help us make a
Had a series of conversations to asses
the possibility of establishing such an initiative
for a while it looked like it might be
we agreed we shouldn't make it
exclusively about Obama
we should find other people. both
sides of the isle.
and bring forward empathetic
a lot of these people don't want to
run for office
we were looking at how to identify
these qualities, support them,
in the last 18 months as civility has
declined, and receptivity to this has almost vanished
I'd love to revive that inquiry and I
continue to believe that Obama has these qualities
37:40 One thing I found really
discouraging - who are others that have these qualities?
people who have this empathic,
reflectiveness, - are not around
the system selects against these
qualities and people
they don't assume positions of
38:20 Sounds discouraging?
It's very discouraging.
I have given up on it in a way. That's
the sad truth.
I hope that things will permit us
to circle back and come round
that there will be another opportunity.
2010-06-29 - Quiet
Justice Greater Good Science Center - Article
"Charles Halpern has been leading a
movement to promote empathy and mindfulness in the practice of law."
Running on Empathy
"In July, in the midst of the primary campaign, President Obama spoke to
a Planned Parenthood conference in the District of Columbia. After
criticizing the Supreme Court’s “concerted effort to steadily roll back”
access to abortion, he turned his attention to the selection of judges.
But he did not fall back on the old question of whether judges should be
committed to a woman’s right to choose abortion. He took the discussion
in a new and unexpected direction."
Obama promotes empathy
He embodies empathy
promotes empathy in Justice
Empathy is important for lawyers
helps create connection to clients
Important for Judges
"empathetic understanding can see behind the
arguments, and reach a deeper understanding of the problems as the
litigants see them, increasing the likelihood of a wise decision. "
"re-value empathy would go far in restoring
wisdom as an important quality for lawyers to cultivate."