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Lawyers do not have much of a reputation for fostering trust. We insist that ordinary people get everything down on paper, thereby sowing seeds of discord and suspicion; we then figure out ways to weasel out of what look like clear directives, thriving on the very discord we have sown. Perhaps there is some significance in the fact that although the word "trust" figures prominently in some standard legal specialties, one of them is antitrust, a subject in which "trust" can take on sinister connotations.
Nevertheless, even lawyers recognize that trust is a subject of enormous importance in modem world affairs. In fact, we like to think that law has a role in creating the preconditions for trust in a more general sense. Like everyone else, we have watched for decades as the residents of Israel and Northern Ireland have torn one another apart, to some degree vindicating lawyers' fond view that trust depends on staying within the ambit of law. Of course, in the last year, it has been humbling to see these same feuding parties take astonishing steps toward cooperation—slow, difficult, tentative, and dangerous steps—with little or no help from the law. This should make people in the legal profession ask: What has allowed these erstwhile enemies to reach out to each other? How stable is their trusting behavior, and what might undermine the very fragile trust that makes these steps possible? What might turn their lands into battlegrounds again, where trust and cooperation are seemingly beyond the grasp of human actors?
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