About Us


The Mindfulness Initiative promotes the integration of mindfulness--the simple practice of moment-to-moment, non-judgmental attention--into the training of lawyers and law students, as a way of increasing well-being, balance, and effectiveness. Over time, we believe that bringing a mindful perspective into legal education and law practice will provide great benefits to lawyers and their clients, and ultimately foster a more just, compassionate, and reflective legal system.

Over the coming years, the Initiative will build on the existing mindfulness programs at Berkeley Law, bring mindfulness practice out to the bench and bar, and help coordinate the growing national movement for mindfulness in law.

Our Staff

Charles Halpern, Director

Charles Halpern, a Lecturer at Berkeley Law, is an innovator in legal education, a pioneer in the public interest law movement, and a long-time meditator. He was the Founding Dean of the City University of New York Law School, a public interest law school with a commitment to “law in the service of human needs.” Previously, he was a professor at Stanford and Georgetown Law Schools, and a Senior Fellow at Yale Law School. He was the co-founder of the Center for Law and Social Policy (1969), the Mental Health Law Project (now the Bazelon Center for Law and Mental Health) (1971), and the Council for Public Interest Law (now the Alliance for Justice) (1976). After graduating with honors from Yale Law School and Harvard College, he practiced law at Arnold & Porter, in Washington, D.C.. From 1989-2000, he served as the founding President of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, stimulating the development of a creative program in the area of contemplative practice. For two decades, he served as the chair of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. He was chair of the board for Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action, a progressive think tank in New York City. He has worked in the area of law and meditation for the past 30 years, and chaired a conference on The Mindful Lawyer at Berkeley Law in October, 2010. He is the author of Making Waves and Riding the Currents, Activism and the Practice of Wisdom (2008).

Dan Carlin, Associate Director

Dan is a 2013 graduate of Berkeley Law, where he earned a certificate in environmental law, was President of the Environmental Law Society, and Coordinator of the Berkeley Law Mindfulness Group. Along with Charlie Halpern, he was a founding staff member of the Mindfulness Initiative, and since 2011 has helped design and coordinate a number of new mindfulness-based programs at the law school, including a speaker series, offsite retreats, a research program, and an innovative Introduction to Mindfulness course for 1L students, now in its second year. He also organized the Initiative's recent Workshop on Mindfulness in Legal Education, which brought together more than 50 law professors and deans from around the country.

Since being introduced to meditation in college, Dan has found mindfulness practice to be a source of creativity, insight and balance, and he believes deeply in its potential to foster individual and institutional change. Before law school, Dan worked as a reporter in Arizona, Southern California, and France; as a hotel concierge in San Francisco; and as a management consultant in Chicago.

Martha Ruch, Assistant to the Director

Martha Ruch is a 2L at Berkeley Law. Martha grew up in Washington D.C. and has a B.A. from UC Berkeley in Spanish language and literature and international development. She recently completed a teaching fellowship with the Ministry of Education in Spain, and spent her last year before law school working as an in-office English teacher in São Paulo, Brazil. Martha has been practicing yoga for eight years and integrates seated meditation with ashtanga yoga and Ayurveda to maintain balance and wellness in law school. She was a participant in Charlie Halpern's Introduction to Mindfulness in Law course for 1Ls in Fall 2012.

Lauren Klein, Program Assistant

Lauren Klein likes to joke that she's a recovering graduate. She received her  Bachelors Degrees in Rhetoric and Psychology from UC Berkeley in May 2012  and now that the University no longer keeps her busy as a student, it keeps her employed as a writer. For its online publication, The Greater Good, she researches the latest and greatest scientific articles on topics like compassion, empathy and altruism that when taken together tell a compelling story on how we can all live a more meaningful life.

Advisory Council

Mirabai Bush is founding director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, an organization dedicated to bringing about positive transformation in society through the spread of contemplative practices.

Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a poet and Zen Buddhist priest. For many years he has taught at the San Francisco Zen Center, the oldest and largest of the new Buddhist organizations in the West, where he served as Co-abbot from 1995-2000. He is presently a Senior Dharma Teacher there as well as the founder and spiritual director of the Everyday Zen Foundation, an organization dedicated to adapting Zen Buddhist teachings to Western culture.

Angela Harris is Professor of Law at UC Davis King Hall School of Law in Davis, CA. She is a leading scholar of critical race theory and feminist jurisprudence, and the co-author of "From 'The Art of War' to 'Being Peace': Mindfulness and Community Lawyering in a Neoliberal Age."

Dacher Keltner, Ph.D, is the Director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and a co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness.
Jack Kornfield is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, where he currently lives and teaches. His many books have been translated into 20 languages and sold more than a million copies.

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph. D, is the Science Director of the Greater Good Science Center, and serves as Scientific Advisor to the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law.

Chade-Meng Tan is a Google engineer, award-winning author, and co-creator of the Search Inside Yourself mindfulness course at Google, which has taught meditation to more than 1,000 Google employees.

Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph. D, is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and mindfulness meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness practices, especially mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), into the mainstream of medicine and society.  

Faculty Committee

Kathy Abrams is the Herma Hill Kay Distinguished Professor of Law at Berkeley Law where she teaches feminist jurisprudence, voting rights and constitutional law.

William Fernholz is Lecturer in Residence at Berkeley Law, where he teaches Appellate Advocacy, Civil Rights, and Employment Discrimination, and serves as Director of the law school’s Appellate Program.

Mary-Louise Frampton is an adjunct professor at Berkeley Law, where her teaching and clinical work focuses on social justice and restorative justice. She also serves as Faculty Director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at Berkeley Law.

David Oppenheimer is the Director of Professional Skills and Clinical Professor of Law at Berkeley Law. He teaches Civil Procedure, and directs the Berkeley Law program in Professional Skills.

john powell is a scholar of race, social justice and civil liberties. He leads UC Berkeley’s Haas Diversity Research Center and holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion. He is founder and former Executive Director of the Institute on Race & Poverty at University of Minnesota Law School.

Sue Schechter is Lecturer in Residence and Program Director of the Field Placement program at Berkeley Law. She teaches Professional Responsibility and the Field Placement Seminar.

Jeffrey Selbin is Faculty Director of East Bay Community Law Center and Clinical Professor of Law at Berkeley Law. He founded EBCLC's HIV/AIDS Law Project in 1990 as a Skadden Fellow, and served as EBCLC's Executive Director from 2002 through 2006.

Jonathan Simon is the Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law at Berkeley Law, where he teaches courses on criminal law, criminal justice, law and culture, among others.

Tirien Steinbach is a Lecturer at Berkeley Law and Executive Director of the East Bay Community Law Center, the largest area provider of free legal services to low-income clients.