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Small Town Lawyer and Channel:
Go the Way You Are Most Able to Accept
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Ann E. Hastings, Esq.                                        
Interviewed in Limerick, Maine on September 14, 2006.
Q:  Can you give a brief sketch of your childhood?

A:  I come from Fryeburg, Maine. My family has lived in Fryeburg for five generations and has provided the town with lawyers for five generations. My great grandfather, David Hastings, was the first.  He originally had a practice in Lovell and another lawyer had a practice in Fryeburg. They both closed their practices and went to fight in the Civil War. After the war they came back to Maine and traded places. David opened a practice in Fryeburg and my family has had a practice continuously in Fryeburg ever since. His son Edward came next; then Edward’s son, Hugh, who became a local judge; then my father, David II, and his brother, Peter. Next came my brother, David III, now a state senator.

When I was a child, small town life was different. Grandpa, and Dad and Uncle Peter were lawyers and Aunt Helen was their secretary. The telephone number of the office was 22 and I would call up and ask, “Is my dad there?”  Aunt Helen would answer the phone and say where he was. If my dad was at the office of the registry, he would tell the office to put the phone calls through the registry and he would take those calls. I would ride around town on my bike and people would say they had spoken with my father. They knew who I was.

My father is still practicing and now is coming close to retirement. He is in his eighties and has practiced more than fifty years. I have seen that generation die and pass along. My father taught us about being a small town lawyer. People live together and families have to live together for generations and you, as the lawyer, don’t do them any favors by making that harder. People would come to him and he would reassure them that things were going to be all right.

Like him, I like being in a small town and being accessible. If people walk up the stairs, I will talk to them if I don’t have another appointment. I don’t feel like I have to tell them to make an appointment and to come back. I have several clients I have had for a long time and I think they come here because they know they can show up and I will talk to them. People ought not to feel like the lawyer in their town is someone separate, apart, and different. It’s just a job.

Q:  Were you the first woman in your family to become a lawyer?

A:  I was and maybe the first Democrat.

When I went to register to vote the first time, I registered as a Republican because I thought there was no choice. I was the youngest and the only daughter and I am widely known in the family as the only Democrat and the liberal.

Q:  Why did you become a lawyer?

A:   There was a certain kind of training that took place unconsciously. Growing up in my family, my father, who was very involved with his children, would challenge us to explain how it made sense that we should get what we wanted.  If we could make a good argument, we could get what we wanted. That’s the way his mind operated and that’s the way he trained us. We all became advocates.

I looked at my family and I decided if I was going to do something that everyone considered important, I would be a lawyer. And, I came along at a time when that was possible. Generations before mine, it was not an option for women. I believe I was less encouraged than my brother; but I was supported when I stated that was what I wanted to do. I was expected to go to good schools. My mother was as educated as my dad and they did not have the feeling that education was for boys and not for girls.

Q:  Where did you go to law school?

A:  I went to the University of Maine.

Q:  What did you do after law school?

A:  When I got out of law school, I was not committed to staying in Maine. I lived in the Boston area for about ten years. I did not practice law at that time. I took the Maine Bar and then went to Boston and took the Massachusetts Bar. Then I went through a period where I was a grown-up hippie and I would say, “It’s a terrible thing to be a lawyer. Who would ever want to be a lawyer?” I had a lot of conflict about it. Then there came a point where I came more into my self and I came to see that I could be the kind of lawyer that could be me and not feel lost.

When I was a younger lawyer I felt badly that I could not represent people for free. I started on my own to help people help themselves. I would help them fill out the forms and tell them how to serve the forms. Usually I would talk with them in the beginning to make sure that it was an appropriate thing for them to do.

I now feel free to be unconventional as a lawyer, if I want, so long as the ethics rules are not broken, which I am careful about. I practice law the way I think is best. I am open about my views. I think I take a somewhat different approach in how I practice law. I have a deep belief that people can understand a lot about their lives. And I will explain things.

Q:  When did you decide to come back to Maine?

A:  My family needed a lawyer in the Fryeburg law office. I told my family I would be happy to come back, but I did not want them to expect me to conform. And, I came back.

I am no longer affiliated with my family’s practice. We get along really well if I am on my own. I talk quite often to my brother in Fryeburg; to my half brother, John Graustein, at Drummond Woodsum in Portland; to my dad; and to my cousin, Art Dumas, in Springvale. I am not isolated out here, as some people who have their own practice.

Q:  How long have you been in Limerick?

A:  Nine or ten years.

Q:  Are you the only attorney in town?

A:  No, but I don't encounter the others much. When I came here, there was another attorney who worked in this office and I did work for him. He had come to be an attorney after being a CPA. I said to him, “I’m a small town practitioner and you need that.” I wanted to work for someone else and not have my own practice because I had other interests, such as my channeling.

Then after a year and one-half, he moved back to Michigan where he was from. I ended up being here. Although I had not anticipated having my own practice, it has worked out really well. The local bank was willing to use my skills and I had experience in family law, small estates and probate work from when I was in Fryeburg.

Q:  Did you pick up your channeling in Boston?

A:  No.

Q:  How did that come about?

A:  When I came back here about twenty years ago. I had always been interested in channeled material, but I never expected to be a channel. Shortly after being back up here, someone said to me, “You know there is a wonderful channel in Portland.” I started going to her classes, trained with her, and assisted her. She travels all over Europe, where channeling is a much more accepted practice, mainstream almost. But then I started to practice more law and I branched out on my own as a channel . . . first doing energy work.

Every channel, in my experience, has a slightly different focus. I developed my own focus, mostly exploring and describing the nature and implications of reality. I am not the kind of channel people are attracted to in droves because I’m not very “new age-y.”

I have written channeled material that talks about the nature of reality. The single biggest thing I think is helpful is that anything you do not accept, you have to turn away from. If you turn away from something, you cannot know it.

I also believe that every experience is acceptable on some level and that the way to self satisfaction in life is to accept experience. If you find yourself in an experience and you try to avoid having it, what you find is lack of satisfaction because that is your life. It is kind of like illness. In our country we do a great disservice for people because we teach people that if they are ill, they have failed. So people try hard not to be ill. And if that is who you are, you are rejecting your life and trying not to have your life. What I am trying to get at is that if you have cancer you have not failed. It is just another life experience. It is o.k. You do not have to fake it so that you have to run from your life and not have the experience that you are having. A lot of people who get very ill receive a lot of awareness grappling with their situation and who is to say that is not a great benefit.

When I work with people I say, “Well, you know whatever it is that is going on, you are o.k.” When a child has been abused, I do not say that the abuse should not have happened because I would be telling that child that there is something wrong with that child’s life. It is different to say to a child, “I know that happened to you and it is just terrible. And I will help you deal with that. You’re o.k.” The only real way to help people who have had difficult experiences is to be willing to be in that place with them. To go to a place of pain is difficult.

Q:  What is the definition of channeling? How are you able to tap into the entity? Do you have special talents?

A:  I don’t know. I try not to know. I cannot really say exactly what it is. From my own experience, I have this relationship with this entity who has given me wisdom. I have been able to channel answers I would not have been able to have known on my own. Because I am a conscious channel, I can hear the answers too.

I can give you an example. One woman I had worked with for many years said that she nearly drowned and had felt afraid. The entity said, “I know you felt afraid. But exactly at what moment were you not actually safe?”  She was safe the whole time. It is important to explore why we believe we are unsafe when we are safe and do not know it.

Q:  How do you share your channel time with your work time?

A:  There was a time when once a month I went to Boston on the weekends and I had a group there. I also did a number of sessions in the evenings, usually in the home. I have moved away from that the last few years. I do some writing, but have not done too much lately. I have a web site that has written materials on it. People have e-mailed me questions and I have answered.

Now I have been working on a new business called “Reshaping the World.”  I believe the world is in unity. You cannot make the one thing into something else, but I think we are responsible for shaping the one thing. I have a web site for this business at

Q:  How does being a channel affect your practice of law?

A:  It makes me more accessible to people. I like people. My channeling helps me see people more richly and so I engage with them in a way I never did before.

Part of my job as a lawyer is to say that my client will be o.k. even if he or she loses. I also say “If you think winning a law suit will make you happy, it won’t. It does not. You will feel crappy whether you win or lose if you have the suit a couple of years. So, go to counseling to deal with your feelings. Do not look to the legal system in something it doesn’t offer. The judge doesn’t want to be your therapist.” 

I do not believe that the legal system represents justice in a spiritual sense, but I have a deep belief that our system is the best. It deserves a great deal of respect. You look at the laws and see if you can benefit from them. And you go forward from there. You do not necessary look at it as a way to feel better. It has benefits and burdens. You describe those to people and let them know.

Q:  What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering the legal system?

A:  It is what you make of it. When I was younger I thought that being a lawyer was something that was relatively fixed. And now I think that you can be any kind of lawyer you want. You may or may not make a lot of money. You may or may not feel satisfied by your work. If you feel comfortable in an adversarial system, you can work for whatever your interest is…protecting the environmental, protecting children, protecting property rights, starting businesses.

This is what my channeling has given to me. When I was younger, I did not like being a lawyer. My channeling helped me understand that any experience was acceptable and that if I did not like the experience, it was because of me and not because of the experience. So I decided that I would accept being a lawyer and I now thrive as a lawyer.

Q:  Any parting thoughts?

A:  When I channel for people, they are told almost universally through the entity that I channel that there is not a right way or a wrong way. Go the way you are most able to accept because you will be more able to sink into that experience and get a richness out of it.