David Hoffman‘s capacity to lead by inspiration is unparalleled. When you attend a program or lecture by David, you feel as if he’s talking to you over a table, sharing stuff that matters to him in the hope that it will matter to you, too.
David recently gave a TEDx Talk in Northern Illinois University, and happily it is posted at YouTube. It’s titled Lawyers as Peacemakers. Really?!? Yes, Really! His talk, couched as a summary professional memoir, is actually a testimony to the core impulse of dispute resolution — the desire to help parties to resolve the conflicts that burden them.
David is the only one of my heroes who regularly cries when he tells stories. He cries in this TED Talk, too. I attribute this proclivity not to David’s tendency to be emotionally labile, but to reflect his practice of entering the very beating human pulse of conflict. He moves easily from a war story of a family conflict to the teachings of two Buddhist priests. This is because David’s approach to his work is as transparent and committed as his approach to his life. He seeks to live in a way that reduces the conflict that surrounds us — whether or not he is in a formal mediation. The way he thinks, is the way he lives, is the way he works, is the way he talks, is the way he thinks.
It is no surprise, then, that David cites Gandhi in his talk, urging us to “be the change you want to see in the world.” In the talk he “announces” that, as of that day, he will forthwith be a lawyer who is a “full-time peacemaker,” and “just say no” to litigation as part of his practice. He sees the role of a lawyer as assisting parties to heal their rifts.
David Hoffman as peacemaker. Really, David?!? Yes, Really!