In Alumni in Action, Featured

The Honorable Diane Goodman, JD, PhD (Depth, 2018)

PGIAA recently experienced the delight of interviewing the Hon. Dr. Goodman, who has just been appointed Judge to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. 

by Beth Boardman

The Journey to Pacifica

Diane went straight into law in her 20s, graduating with a Juris Doctor degree from the University of La Verne Law School, and passing the Bar Examination in 1984. This rigorous law degree does not come with a Bachelor’s degree, however, which ended up presenting Diane a challenge when she wanted to get further degrees in Psychology.  A fully qualified lawyer, Diane went back to school to fulfill requirements for the lower degree, while also working as a partner at Goodman and Metz and later as the owner of the Law Office of Diane M. Goodman.

What motivates a practicing lawyer to go back to the beginning, so to speak, and start a new, adjunct educational journey?  Like so many of us, Diane experienced a deeply painful, life-transformative event that threatened to break her heart and her will.  Diane’s son was arrested for murder, and her life skidded to the brink of an emotional cliff.

Diane suffered terrible grieving and found her way to a grief workshop called “Growth in Transition,” lead by Larry Lincoln, MD, and Anne Taylor Lincoln, a licensed psychotherapist. The Taylors’ workshop focused on a lesser-known aspect of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s grief theory, which involves doing somatic work with grief survivors. Diane loved the symbolic language, and found hope, relief, and inspiration in learning to listen to her own body. The program helped her learn to externalize her internal suffering in ways not harmful to herself or others.

During her practice as a family law mediator, Diane developed a curiosity about the field of Psychology; her experiences following her son’s arrest deepened this interest.  She didn’t need another license, but she throve on the language of Depth Psychology, so she found the program at Pacifica.  Pacifica requires a Bachelor’s degree, however, even if you do already possess a Juris Doctorate. Diane felt unmistakably called to study at Pacifica, so she took three years to complete her BA, enjoying being around the younger students.  Finally, she was allowed to matriculate at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Time at Pacifica

 “My time at Pacifica was great,” Diane says, “I had the best teachers from around the world,” including Corbett, Cambray, Beebe, just for starters.  She loved her time at Pacifica where she felt warm and safe, and like most of us, she misses it.  She had had no exposure to Jungian psychology until she came to Pacifica.  Diane recalls the campus as “warm and safe, a cocoon up in the hills to explore your inner world.” PGI gave her the words to describe what she was seeing/experiencing with her law clients, which allowed her to find a deep patience.  The language she learned at Pacifica allowed her to contextualize what was happening in a mediation room, i.e., the client needed to process their grief.  Sometimes Diane had the embodied instinct to let a client cry their eyes out, to the surprise of other counsel or judges.  This instinct often resulted in a calming of the client, and a clearer picture emerging for a path forward.

Incorporating a PhD in Depth Psychology with the Practice of Law

Diane practices mostly in family law, mediating divorces, custody cases, and adoptions.  She has found her education from Pacifica incredibly helpful as a mediator.  “There is so much unconscious stuff happening,” Diane remembers, including issues the clients have with their own parents, their partner’s parents, and life traumas.  She feels “a little therapeutic” in her work because she now has the language of Depth Psychology to help pinpoint the important issues in the conflict so that they can reach toward family solutions.

Diane possesses the highest level of legal competence and highest ethical standards rating possible by Martindale-Hubbell.  She was selected as Super Lawyer by Los Angeles Magazine for 2009-2023 and has received many awards and recognitions for her work as a volunteer mediator as well as the Difference Maker Award from the American Bar Association.

As Diane goes forward into her judgeship, she will bring the insight, wisdom, and understanding from her lifetime of experience and learning.  Because 75% of people coming to court do not have legal representation, she relies on her background and education to identify important issues quickly and efficiently so that the people before her can feel heard.

Congratulations to the Honorable Doctor Goodman, and best wishes for your judgeship going forward!

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