Recht in Balans

Conscious contracting in practice Justice in Balance

‘Speaking in the way that makes the other person listen”

2015 was the year in which I introduced Conscious Contracting in the Netherlands and it was the year of my ‘coming out’ as a holistic lawyer, too.
I expressed what had been on my mind for a while. Quite exciting but great fun! I wanted to speak in a way that the other person is able to hear; that is to articulate the matter at hand in a way that the other person can really understand me.
In October I gave a masterclass with US attorney Kim Wright. Kim is the author of the bestseller “Lawyers as Peacemakers’. Participants were enthusiastic and rated the masterclass with a big 8!

I also gave a few lectures on Conscious Contracting, i.e. on the occasion of the departure of Marjan van der List, member of the training staff in the General Council. The General Council manages the Dutch Bar Association.

And I organized an evening for ‘individual line up’ (systematic work) for a group of lawyers, judges and court clerks from the University of Amsterdam. For many participants, this was an eye-opener. Preparation work can broaden one’s view as professionals and lets you utilize the wisdom of your subconscious. I plan to continue to integrate this work in my practice, as well as in the guidance and coaching of lawyers.

Conscious contracting in practice

This past year I have drawn up more and more Conscious Contracts. For example during the transfer of the Institute for Transformational Psychology (ITP) Robert Stamboliev gave the baton over to “his” ITP, a former student and colleague Ruud Zuurman. I guided both men through this process in order to arrive at a Conscious Contract.
Robert and Ruud: “Instead of everyone having their own lawyer to negotiate, we have saved time and money by Digna facilitating our process, which enables us to create a ‘genuine’ legal document in plain language, fully reflecting both our values and intentions”.

For Flint Theatre, Events and Conferences in the city of Amersfoort, I have written a new version of the Conscious Bearer Contract. Bearers (sponsors) of the Flint support the Flint dream like an experience and help (for example by paying a financial contribution per year) to realise this dream.
It has become a contract in a common, unifying language which reflects the enthusiasm, joy and values of the Flint team. It is now a showpiece for Flint, instead of a formal and incomprehensible drafted legal document.

Plans for 2016

Giving a master class for Conscious Contracting with Kim Wright will become an annual event. This masterclass will take place in the second half of 2016 at Dialogue in Bussum.

Visual contracting

In addition I will give a master class on another innovative development: Visual Contracting. Together with artist/ lawyer Susanne van der Meer (living and working in the United States), we introduce ‘Conscious Contracting and Visual Contracting’. Lawyers, mediators and entrepreneurs learn how to visually simplify complex legal information in a contract.
Why using visuals in a contract? Because they are compact and clear, often much clearer than a lot of words. Visual thinking activates another stream of thought which results in arriving at a different level of thinking.
Using visualization provides clarity. It is instantly made clear what a particular document is about. A good infographic can quickly summarize a ten-page document. Working with visuals in our information overloaded society makes it immediately much more effective.

Conscious contracting in practice Justice in Balance

Additional thoughts

I would very much like to apply mediation in areas in which it is not yet common practice. For example: in environmental planning disputes. My belief is that mediation can bring much benefit since many rulings of the (administrative) court are not easily soluble. I really believe in the potential of mediation.

Sending each other lengthy letters full of arguments and on top of that eventually going to court is something we should aim to avoid. It takes endless time and deteriorates relationships. Mediation enables one to get much further while maintaining, or even strengthening, the relationships.
And it works! Sometimes I come across cases in which the parties do not see a way out after all the endless litigation and negotiating. With mediation, however, you will be able to overcome these kind of problems, because you get to talk about the real issues on a deeper level.


“As you start to walk on your way, the way appears.”

– Rumi –


Listening and hearing that is often the key to proper treatment, handling and resolution

Unfortunately, I regularly encounter the perception that mediation is “something soft’. I think this is nonsense. Often one associates mediation with divorces and personal problems only. In addition, it is thought that it does not appear sufficiently forceful when you say: “This opponent is difficult, let’s now carefully listen to him”. And, yet, it is that listening and hearing that is often the key to proper treatment, handling and resolution.

This video is a source of encouragement and I like to share it. Click it and skip the advertising.

Question time about Conscious Contracting

Once a month I will hold a question- and answer session about Conscious Contracting. Have you already attended a masterclass and wish to debate the use of Conscious Contracts further, or is this a totally new concept that you want to get acquainted with?

Check with our office for our next Question Time about Conscious Contracting!

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Conscious Contracting Masterclasses

Digna strives for the implementation of “Conscious Contracts”.

With master classes and workshops she provides entrepreneurs, lawyers, corporate lawyers and mediators with insights and practical tools for drawing up “conscious contracts”, as well as giving guidance during this process.
The aim for conscious contracts is: draw these up for people/ organisations having to work with these contracts.
By doing so Digna intentionally departs from the period where one lawyer draws up a contract for the other lawyer, by drawing up sustainable contracts in dialogue with people and organisations who choose this method.

Dialogue Masterclass Bewust Contracteren - Conscious Contracting Digna De Bruin

Digna introduces “Conscious Contracting” to members of the General Council, Professional Training CPO and representatives of the Dutch Order of Lawyers.


A change is going on in the judicial domain. We live in a world with technological and social developments happening in rapid succession and loss of trust in institutions such as banks. The legislator can hardly keep pace with all these developments, let alone barristers and lawyers having to administer this legislation.
Parties entering into a cooperation can count less on clear legislation. They will have to incorporate their cases in a contract in a solid and preferably sustainable manner; in a ‘conscious contract’.


But more is going on, discontentment is mounting about lawyers’ current method of working; about the discrepancy between ‘justice’ and (experiencing) ‘fairness’. Also about contracts not connecting with the business and the values of the parties concerned.
Current law practice almost entirely uses contracts with the main aim of covering risks in case things go wrong and establishing who then will be the accountable party.
While drawing a contract the entirety is not the main aim, but the unilateral interest of one client only, at the expense of the other party. Conscious contracting breaks with this tradition.


Internationally a different, more sustainable approach is growing: the approach of ‘integrative law’. The starting point is win-win: creativity and cooperation, clarity, transparency, ‘simple’ use of language with as little jargon as possible, trust and a good relationship. This requires different skills of the lawyers. It requires proactive, sustainable or value oriented contracting with conscious, balanced or value driven contracts as a result.


While conscious contracting, parties build a strong relationship with each other, based on a shared vision, mission and values. This focus at the start of a contractual connection establishes an important framework for solving possible conflicts, thus not getting stuck in an endless judicial dispute disturbing the relationship which is not benefiting both parties. This method of working totally fits within the ‘trusted advisor’ concept.

In October 2015 Digna held a master class in Conscious Contracting, together with Kim Wright, the American author of the bestsellers ‘Lawyers as Peacemakers’ and ‘Lawyers as Changemakers’.
Outlined below you will find the follow up activities in 2016 of this important field.

Conscious contracts in 2016:

• January 20th: presentation for the Dutch Cooparation Oosterschelde region, (WMO Oosterschelde regio) and board of directors of the contracted healthcare providers. Topic: ‘Conscious Contracts; a sustainable method of drawing up contracts, based on values and trust. What is it that touches you?’.
• June 2016: masterclass Conscious and Visual Contracts; ‘Sustainable Contracts- a Clear Picture’, together with Susanne van der Meer of Legal Visuals (Dutch spoken, exact dates follow, organised via Dialogue).
• Second half 2016: Master class ‘Conscious Contracts’, together with Kim Wright (English spoken, exact date follows, organised via Dialogue).
• November 25th 2016: lecture on New Advocacy for the (Flemish) Judicial Collective in Mechelen. This group of lawyers wishes to promote mediation and on mediation inspired practices in the judicial world. Digna will give this lecture by invitation of Prof. Eric Lancksweerdt, author of the book: ‘De menskracht in het recht’ (The human power in justice).

NB: For a (in house) course and or lecture Digna can be contacted personally:
Tel: 06-46063434/ 035 – 5435355.

Conscious Contracts


A sea change is underway in the legal domain, prompted by our fast-changing world in which
technological and social developments are following one another at a rapid pace. For example:
robotization, drones, the Uber taxi service (peer-to-peer economy) and loss of faith in institutions
such as banks. Legislators are unable to keep up, let alone the legal experts and lawyers who have to
interpret and apply the legislation. Parties who decide to join forces are less able than in the past to
count on clear laws and will need to clearly circumscribe the business they do together with
contracts, preferably conscious contracts.

The larger whole

But there is more. There is simmering dissatisfaction about the way in which lawyers currently do
their work. About the discrepancy between ‘the law’ and the perception of ‘justice’. About the fact
that contracts are not in synch with the business and the values of the parties involved. Current legal
practice virtually exclusively involves contracts whose main purpose is to cover the risks of things
going wrong and stipulating who is liable. When drawing up the contract, lawyers consider not the
larger whole of the partnership but the one-sided interest of the client, at the cost of the other.


Internationally, a different, more sustainable approach has grown up, that of ‘integrative law’. This
approach is based on the win-win paradigm, on creativity and cooperation, clarity, openness, the use
of ‘ordinary’ language with as little jargon as possible, trust and good relationships. That calls for
different competences on the part of lawyers, and for a different kind of contract: so-called
‘conscious contracts’.
In a conscious contract, the parties build up strong relationships with one another, based on a shared
vision, mission and values. Focusing on these matters at the start of a contractual relationship
provides the framework for resolving any conflicts that may arise in the relationship between the
parties themselves, rather than running aground in endless legal conflicts that cloud the relationship
and do not help the client. This way of working fits completely within the concept of being a ‘trusted

Embrace this new development!

Register now for the ‘Masterclass Conscious Contracts: sustainable contracting. Receive practical
tools to support you when drawing up sustainable contracts and lead the way in this new
development. Please note: this masterclass will be given in English.


Digna de Bruin
Is a pioneer in the field of integrative law in the Netherlands. She works ‘from the heart’ on conscious
contracts for various clients as a lawyer, mediator and coach.
Digna de Bruin is the representative of The Netherlands/Europe in the field of international conscious contracts.

Kim Wright
Is the author of the book ‘Lawyers as peacemakers, Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law’, a
bestseller in the US. The American Bar Association (ABA) has named her ‘Legal Rebel of the year’. Her
new book ‘Lawyers as Changemakers, the Emerging International Integrative Law Movement’ will be
published in 2016.
More info: and search on YouTube for ‘cuttingedgelaw’.

• Incorporating the norms and values of a company or department into the contract.
• Contracting based on an open and authentic attitude. Linking in with the client’s motivations and
not reasoning from the worst-case scenario.
• Practicing drawing up a conscious contract.

• Lawyers
• Company lawyers
• Mediators

The Master class is also open to the target group entrepreneurs. And the lawyers/mediators can obtain training points.

• Management and leadership

1 day

Contact and registration

For more course information or to sign up for a masterclass, please contact Bart Smits by calling
0031 35 541 18 44 or by sending an email to .

Dialogue BV
Lindelaan 12, 1405 AK Bussum
T: 035 541 18 44

Value based contracts, integrative contracts on Youtube;

Digna’s coaching, questions and exercises

Digna’s coaching, questions and exercises

By entering the route of a conscious contract one encounters oneself as well as the other party in a totally different way as in normal contract negotiations. Due to Digna’s coaching, questions and exercises I came to understand that a certain cooperation came on the wrong moment – a discovery that never crossed my mind. This wasn’t a pleasant revelation, since mutual expectations were not delivered. But it was an extremely valuable route because it saved us from entering a multi-annual course together, without really checking carefully whether this actually was a good idea.
Digna also coached us towards a respectful closure, whereby everyone could share his disappointment in an honest way, while remaining dignified towards each other.
I am truly thankful for Digna’s work and also as a lawyer and mediator Digna has become a great source of inspiration for me!

Mr. C.R.H. Freeke
Lawyer/MfN register-mediator