logo Sylvia Clute

Sylvia Clute

Author – Attorney –  Legal System Innovator – Social Justice Change Agent

What if law and justice fostered transformation?

     How can we get there?

About Sylvia

sylvia clute

Sylvia Clute is the founder of the Unitive Justice movement based on the Unitive Justice theory that she created. This theory compares 14 structures found in punitive systems with 14 structures found in Unitive Justice system. This theory provides an effective roadmap for system change, from a system based on retribution and revenge to a system with no punitive elements. This theory and the 14 Arcs are described in more detail in my website, UnitiveJustice.com.

Information about connecting with the larger Unitive Justice movement may be found on the Alliance for Unitive Justice website at www.a4uj.org.
Welcome to the journey from punitive to Unitive Justice!

When I entered law school, I was told that I would be learning about the best legal system possible. I later learned that there are actually two models of justice, one based on proportional revenge and one based on lovingkindness. I had only been taught about the retributive, punitive model, but I was determined to discover how justice as Love manifests and can be consciously implemented. Because both systems are described using one term, “justice,” there can be confusion around justice and injustice. This confusion can sometimes be used to intentionally deceive what is intended. Being able to distinguish between punitive justice and Unitive Justice reduces the confusion. When we understand this distinction, our world of greed, violence and war in the midst of breathtaking acts of love, kindness and generosity makes perfect sense. When we analyze the two systems, we discover that punitive justice reflects a dualistic way of thinking that makes the “us versus them” dichotomy seem reasonable. Unitive Justice recognizes the interconnectedness of all that is – that what we do to others, in some way, we do to ourselves. Sorting this out is not difficult. Moving from one system to the other is possible. It won’t happen overnight because we are entangled in duality on many levels. The good news is that the organizing principle of Oneness lies at the root of all that is. When we lose our way, immersed in the disorganizing process of duality, we can return to the organizing principle of Love by choosing to do so. If this is a new concept, you may rest assured that it is a movement that is worldwide and it is growing. Our future and the future of generations to come depend on its success. Sylvia
If you would like to contact me, please use this contact form. For in-depth information about Unitive Justice, please visit the website of the Alliance for Unitive Justice at www.a4uj.org and my other website, UnitiveJustice.com.


  •  Masters of Public Administration, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Juris Doctor, Boston University School of Law
  • Masters of Public Administration, University of California, Berkeley  
  • B. A., Political Science, University of Colorado 

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia State Bar
  • United States District Court, Eastern and Western Virginia
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States Supreme Court Bar


  • Honored by Virginia Women Attorney’s Assn. as a leader in shaping the law for the 21st century. 
  • Selected as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation, a distinction limited to no more than 1% of the membership of the Virginia State Bar, in recognition of the promotion of public understanding of the law, encouragement of excellence in the delivery of legal services and the improvement of the administration of just 
  • Commencement Speaker, Randolph Macon Women’s College,  Lynchburg, Virginia. Gave speech entitled “Will You Find a Better Way?”
  • Style Magazine, named among Richmond’s Best and Brightest Attorneys.
  •  Named an Outstanding Woman of Greater Richmond in the area of Law by the Richmond YWCA.
  •  Recognized by the Virginia Commission on the Status of Women for service to women of Virginia in promoting reform of legislation affecting women 
  •  Lifestyle Magazine, named as one of Richmond’s most powerful women. 

New Release

Explore Sylvia's Books

Unitive Justice


Unitive Justice: Bending the Arc of Justice Toward Love


Unitive Justice introduces a revolutionary concept: Justice as Love, or Unitive Justice, a way to achieve justice without inflicting revenge or seeking retribution.

Written by an experienced trial attorney, Sylvia Clute, Unitive Justice offers a much-needed alternative to the punitive model of justice, which comes with a heavy cost to individuals and communities. By setting out fourteen Arcs from punitive justice to Unitive Justice, what begins to appear is a path from a punitive system to a unitive system.

It is urgently important that we transform our understanding of justice if we hope to create peace, save our environment, end systemic racism and other debilitating prejudices, address deep pockets of poverty, and achieve lasting positive change.

Of course, justice system change is no small undertaking. Justice is not limited to the courts—it is all-encompassing, in family structures, schools, businesses, institutions and exists to a large extent in our minds. Unitive Justice shows the promise that Justice as Love holds for transforming our justice system and world. It is not a “quick fix” for the brokenness in the world, but it is a start. It may take several lifetimes to transform a world tethered to dualistic thinking, and yet it can be implemented by one person, in one family, one relationship, one school and in one prison pod right now.

The fact that grave injustices have existed and could happen again is a compelling reason to begin to create small pockets of Unitive Justice wherever we can and to nurture them with all the Love we can muster. Practicing Justice as Love is life-changing, if not life-saving, for many involved.

With this book, readers will gain insight into the cutting-edge concept of Unitive Justice and discover how it can transform the way we understand and implement justice. Once you experience Unitive Justice, you can no longer believe that punitive justice is the best we can do. 

beyond vengeance

Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality: A Call for a Compassionate Revolution

We live in a time of monumental change. While many have written about the shift that is unfolding, in the end, what people yearn for is a way to make this new worldview concrete and tangible.  How do we build our institutions to reflect the new reality? This is what Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality (Hampton Roads, 2010) offers readers; a blueprint for transformative change that begins with a central pillar of our culture, how we define justice. The unique way in which the pieces of the puzzle are assembled in Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality make it more difficult for those who defend the old order to make their case, and it will give legitimacy to those who are building the new institutions. Through this frame, old approaches to law, government, business, religion, education and economics are seen in a fresh new way that leads to concrete answers. A new world is at hand and we need not wait!           Available on Amazon.
destiny unveiled

Destiny Unveiled

In an age of terrorism, global warming and dwindling resources, accomplished attorney Christi Daniel desperately searches for a better approach to our legal, governmental and political systems, taking the reader on a journey from fear-based public policy to enlightened public policy. Her mentor through the process, Founding Father George Washington, reveals a world in which harmony, unity and balance can save us from disaster.

As Seven Spiritual Principles for Governing a People are unveiled, what seems impossible becomes tangible, within Christi’s grasp and ours. Mystery, romance, politics, intrigue and an important message for our troubled times, all in one good read. (New Founders Press, 2006)               Available on Amazon.

Read the movie script for Destiny Unveiled that I did with the help of some of my Kennedy School Classmates,

                            Molly Soeby, Mounir Tabet, Elaine Rigas and Slavica Indzevska-Stojanovic.

Movie Script for Destiny Unveiled


© Sylvia Clute 2007

All Rights Reserved

This material may not be used in any format

Without the written permission of the author.

Unitive Justice

Assorted individuals embracing from behind

Unitive justice is a system for creating a parallel model of justice based on love, not retribution or getting even.
Unitive Justice is grounded on certain principles that emphasize the following:

· Community strength and self-empowerment.

· Consensual participation and equality/inclusiveness.

· Values, such as trust, honesty, discernment and lovingkindness.

· Achieving mutually beneficial outcomes.

Unitive Justice Theory

By comparing 14 structures of our established punitive justice system with 14 structural elements of Unitive Justice, we escape our mistaken belief that punitive justice is the best we can do. Online courses on Unitive Justice theory and its implementation will soon be available on the Alliance for Unitive Justice website at www.a4uj.org.

Sylvia Clute, Unitive Justice Lectures and Programs

Sylvia was a trial attorney for 28 years; she is trained in collaborative law, mediation, and several models of restorative justice. Since 1987 she has been working on creating Unitive Justice theory and since 2011 has been implementing Unitive Justice in schools and prisons and other environments–it works wherever people gather and live in community. If you are interested in information about scheduling a lecture or a program, please contact Sylvia here.

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