We readily see how our business priorities and goals, or our personal practices (meditation, volunteerism, recycling, buying organic) can encourage transformation and serve our vision of a more just and sustainable world.
When we think about engaging ‘The Law’ to build a better world, we tend to think in terms of legal strategies, such as, whether or how to litigate and whether or how to provoke change by intentional law-breaking such as civil disobedience and protest demonstration. We vote for legislative representatives who we believe will work for change in statutes and policies and we engage in debates and campaigns to try and influence others’ opinions and viewpoints.
In effect, we try to transform the world by using the existing legal system along with its long-standing paradigms and templates – the conventional frame of reference and structural framework. We don’t generally imagine it is possible to have a transformative affect on the world by how we conduct our private or business legal affairs; and we can hardly imagine that we could be part of sustained transformation of the legal system itself. Yet, we can become transformational activists catalyzing system-wide change and, at the same time, have an immediate, powerful affect on how the existing legal-justice system impacts our daily interactions and dealings – if we are conscious and willing to take the time.
Design your own systems
Every contractual relationship is, in essence, a self-contained legal system. The terms of the contract are the laws that the parties write for themselves and the dispute resolution provisions in their contract – whether written or unwritten – determine the justice system and process that will be used when the parties need to manage change or resolve disputes between themselves.
Their contract is a private system within a public system. Our larger, so-called legal-justice system encompasses and impacts the workability of the private contractual system; but this larger context does not mean that the parties to a contract are powerless – unless they choose to be so. It is, in fact, quite possible for the parties to retain a good deal of their power of self-determination and self-governance by conscious, enlightened design.
Using knowledge of the broader system, the parties can create their own structural foundations and frameworks. Instead of cobbling together a structure from bits and pieces borrowed from or imposed by cumbersome convention and habit, they can design and implement their ideal private governance system. Rather than using their contract as a weapons cache stockpiled in case of dispute, the parties can write a document that serves as a guide and support to their own, intentional system and structure within and with the support of the greater, conventional frame and framework.