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The mission of the Integrative Law Institute at Commonweal is to bring to lawyers the insights and tools they need to return the practice of law to its original purpose as a healing profession. ILI draws on and applies recent discoveries in the biological and social sciences to provide educational programs grounded in the idea that conflict can best be understood as a manifestation of a dysfunctional human system rather than as a problem that can be resolved through the clash of conflicting legal rights and entitlements. ILI Director Pauline H.Tesler is a pioneer in Interdisciplinary Collaborative Legal Practice who teaches lawyers to be peacemakers.
ILI's programs bring to lawyers, judges, and law professors:
A new science-based jurisprudence integrating emerging knowledge from positive psychology, neuroscience, human needs theory, and body-mind awareness practices
Practical interdisciplinary techniques for addressing human conflicts constructively, not solely as legal problems, but across the many dimensions in which conflict impacts the lives of people experiencing it
The need for ILI's new jurisprudence is urgent. Our adversarial "winner take all" legal system, rooted in medieval trial-by-combat and 18th century rationalism, often harms the physical and emotional health of those who take part in it, prolonging conflict and failing to achieve durable resolution for the disputants. Our courts operate based on beliefs that ignore current scientific understandings about how humans experience conflict and make choices, and the services lawyers and judges currently are taught to provide often work at cross purposes to biological and psychological facts about people in conflict.
This poor fit between human needs and professional legal dispute resolution/conflict resolution services wreaks particular destruction in families, where protracted divorce proceedings often destroy ex-spouses' ability to cooperate in raising their children. Similar unintended harms abound in probate, employment, sexual harassment, medical malpractice and other arenas of litigation. ILI teaches lawyers and judges new and better ways to resolve conflict, heal breaches in the social fabric, and work effectively as our culture's peacemakers. The methods taught by ILI integrate traditional practices, creative conflict resolution tools, and front line research discoveries from the biological and social sciences.