Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Can Practicing Mindfulness Improve Lawyer Decision-Making, Ethics, and Leadership? by Peter H. Huang.
To practice mindfulness is to pay attention in a curious, deliberate, kind, and non-judgmental way to life as it unfolds each moment. Mindfulness is currently very fashionable and has been so for sometime now in American business, education, media, medicine, popular culture, and sports. Many American business and law students, business and law professors, business and law schools, business people and lawyers, and business and legal organizations are considering how mindfulness can be helpful in business, law, and conflict resolution. Much of the popularity of mindfulness stems from (popular media coverage about) empirical, experimental research data in psychology and neuroscience about how practicing mindfulness improves emotional, mental, and physical health by boosting concentration, immune response, and positive affect, while reducing distress, emotional reactivity, and negative affect. This Article analyzes novel theoretical perspectives in financial economics, management science, and leadership studies to analyze how and why mindfulness can improve decision-making, ethics, and leadership. Practicing mindfulness is an experience that provides a temporal space to pause and then make reflective decisions, including sustaining ethical behavior and leadership. To date, there is little empirical or experimental research about how practicing mindfulness affects law students, lawyers, or law professors. There is though a growing body of empirical or experimental research about how practicing mindfulness affects people who are not in the legal profession. Based on this research, this Article makes three recommendations. First, law professors and lawyers team up with neuroscientists and psychologists to conduct multi-methods waitlist controlled research studies involving law students, lawyers, and law professors to determine if practicing mindfulness improves legal decision-making, ethics, and leadership. Second, law students, lawyers, and law professors try practicing mindfulness to see if they improve their legal decision-making, ethics, and leadership. Third, law schools, law firms, and bar associations try offering voluntary mindfulness training and supporting mindfulness practice to see if doing so improves legal decision-making, ethics, and leadership.