We Are Building American Buddhism

University of California Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200

Website:  www.law.berkeley.edu/mindfulness.htm


Description of Organization

Upon his retirement, Charlie Halpern, the co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, moved to Berkeley, completed work on a book, and began an informal meditation group at Berkeley Law, one of the first in the nation.  In 2009, he first offered a meditation course in the law school, Effective and Sustainable Law Practice: The Meditative Perspective. The overwhelmingly positive reaction of the students indicated that this could have a large impact on their lives as students and lawyers, and more importantly, on the legal field and society in general. The Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law was formally launched in October 2011.

The objective of the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law is to coordinate and expand the existing programs at Berkeley Law on mindfulness and law. It will work to build a nationwide network of lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students committed to bringing mindfulness into their work in order to create a more just, reflective, and compassionate legal order.  Since Berkeley is a highly respected leader in legal education, the Initiative will use the Berkeley platform to bring mindfulness programs to other law schools, through conferences, their website and other means.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2013, the Lenz Foundation awarded a grant of $15,000 to support a 4-day retreat and workshop in June 2013 forfaculty members who are teaching or considering teaching a course involving mindfulness in American law schools and law schools in other countries. The goals of this program are to educate and support faculty in bringing mindfulness teaching into their courses – either as a part of other subject matter courses or as a stand-alone law and mindfulness course. The leaders of the workshop will be the teachers who have done the pioneering work over the last decade in bringing mindfulness into the law school curriculum.

The conference will be open to as many as 40 participants. After the conference a communication network will be set up to provide support to all participants, in order to share experiences in moving mindfulness into the Law school curriculum. No other organization has as yet undertaken such a project. The pre-eminence of Berkeley Law in the world of legal education will greatly enhance the significance of this program.