Lawyers, Faith, and Peacemaking—the title of this
conference brings together three concepts that
generally are not considered in the same phrase.
Lawyers in an adversarial justice system are in the conflict business. Many people do not see
a lawyer until conflict erupts, and they often anticipate that the lawyer will escalate hostilities,
not make peace. Religious disputes have been the source of conflict, both within and between
religious faiths. But our religious traditions call us to peace. The prophet Isaiah said, “The
work of righteousness shall be peace.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall
be called children of God.” And our religious traditions have resources for resolving conflict
and promoting peace. Many of our greatest cultural conflicts cut across religious lines, and
religious faith could be a source of reconciliation. This conference will consider ways that
lawyers and religious faith can be sources of peace.
The common image of the lawyer is that of combatant, but much of the work of lawyers
serves the ends of peace. Litigation itself is an alternative to violent resolution of conflict
and more than 90 percent of litigated cases are settled. Though they are not often thought of
as peacemakers, good transactional lawyers avoid conflict by putting together deals in ways
that are designed to avoid conflict from the beginning. Good lawyers bring important skills to
the project of peacemaking, including the ability to identify the sources of conflict, organize
complex situations, narrow the issues, bring law and other social norms to address emotionally
driven conflicts, and creatively identify stable solutions.
At this conference we explore some of the most difficult conflicts facing us today, at the
local, national, and international levels. We will consider how lawyers can draw on their
religious traditions in ways that will help to resolve conflicts.
We hope that you enjoy what we are confident will prove to be a challenging and
Robert F. Cochran, Jr.
Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law and
Director, Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics
Associate Professor of Law and
Acting Director, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution
Keynote Speakers: Adlerstein, Carrasco, & Smith
Peacemaking in the Ordinary Practice of Law
Muslim/Christian Dialogue on Peacemaking: Stassen & Shafiq
Peacemaking in the Family and the Religious Congregation: Mendoza, Supancic, & Pace