If you’re not already aware of Dean Patty Roberts’s fantastic Podcast, EdUp Legal, on the EdUp Experience Network, we hope you’ll add this Podcast to your listening queue. About once a week, Dean Roberts explores the opinions and prognostications of leaders in legal education regarding the future of legal training and considers the value proposition of law school.
Dean Roberts recently interviewed Professor Leah Teague. The duo, who share a commitment to preparing law students for their important roles as leaders in society, discussed Professor Teague’s work in fostering a national movement of intentional leadership development in law schools.
This article, posted in the November 2020 Leadership Issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, examines the concepts of agility and fragility in uncertain and ever-changing times. Although it deals with the stresses of the pandemic as they relate to the need for agility and recognizing fragility within teammates, these lessons in emotional intelligence are applicable to nearly every situation where the outcome or future is not guaranteed. As the pandemic drags on nearly a year later, it is perhaps more crucial now that ever as we deal with the effects of a long-term crisis.
The articlealso touches upon two other concepts that I like to discuss with students – efficiency and effectiveness. As the article notes, while many firms focus upon efficiency, they should also be focused upon efficiency’s necessary twin – effectiveness. Checking in on your colleagues to make sure that they are getting their work done in stress times is focusing upon efficiency. But effectiveness is also making sure that your colleagues are doing well. As the saying goes, “you must be doing well to do good.” This approach works with all constituencies, not just work colleagues – family, friends, and clients. We can use our emotional intelligence skills to connect with those around us and help them through difficult situations.
Finally, a note about fragility. Although “fragility” often takes a negative connotation, I really liked it in this context. It does not encourage fragility, but rather helps us look for symptoms of stress and anxiety in others when they are outwardly projecting confidence and positivity. It encourages us to look for moments and ways to help others when they may be struggling. If that’s not using emotional intelligence to make the world a little better, I do not know what is.
Stewart’s book has been described as an “outstanding biography” by the Wall Street Journal and was recently awarded the “History Prize” by the Society of the Cincinnati. (The Society of the Cincinnati was “founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army who served together in the American Revolution.” President Washington was a founding member and first president of the organization.)
In a profession filled with high IQs, there is evidence that working on your emotional intelligence (or EI) can pay dividends in your professional and personal life.
The education and training in law schools traditionally focused almost exclusively on developing the cognitive ability to solve legal problems. Emotions were discouraged and even criticized as a sign of weakness. Research in more recent years confirms the relevance of emotions in decision-making and the benefit of well-managed emotions to career success and personal satisfaction.
The Yale researcher in the 1990s who coined the term Emotional Intelligence found that the most sophisticated information processing and decision-making occur when we employ not only cognitive ability but also emotion. For a brief history and explanation of Emotional Intelligence, please see the ABA article by Ronda Muir, Emotional Intelligence for Lawyers. She explains,
research has established that rational decision-making is impaired if the area of the brain relating to emotions is damaged or excised. It has now been scientifically demonstrated that the best analyses and decisions are made when we engage the emotions, as well as the intellect. For lawyers, the message is clearly that, in order to upgrade their performance, they should use the additional data available from their own and others’ emotions to enhance their cognitive skills.
In his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reported research showing the traditional IQ test only accounts for 20% of a person’s success in life. “Psychologists have concluded that a portion of the missing factors lies in Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of our own emotions and others and to control our own emotions while empathizing with the emotions of others.
Law schools place a high value on intellect and cognitive ability and we are not wrong to do so. Lawyers as a group have higher than average IQ scores. Some assume the IQ is an accurate predictor of success after law school, and it is – but only to a point. Lawyers “exhibit high average IQ scores (in the 115-130 range), while at the same time scoring lower than the general population on Emotional Intelligence (85-95).” Emotional intelligence is a better predictor of success when IQ is similar, according to Ronda Muir, in “Emotional Intelligence for Lawyers.”
What is Emotional Intelligence?
As a general matter, emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own and others’ emotional state to relate and work well with others. One approach to EI is to consider four aspects:
What a person knows about themselves (self-awareness);
What a person does with this understanding of their emotions to control or guide their impulses (self-management or regulation);
What a person knows about others (social awareness); and
What a person does with the awareness of others to use that information to build relationships and work well with others (relationship management).
Enhancing one’s Emotional Intelligence takes commitment to developing emotional competencies (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills) through sustained practice, coaching, and feedback.
Spend time this month exploring emotional intelligence. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, start with:
Pick two different scenarios where you can observe a group without participating in the group. You also should be far enough away that you cannot hear what the individuals are saying to one another. Write down what actions you observe and what you think they mean. For example, if someone frowns, do you think that person is angry, is sad, disagreed with another person, or something else? Was the emotion directed at another person in the group or someone who you do not think was present? Spend at least ten minutes observing each group.
On top of the traditional busyness that comes with starting a new academic year, we know many face difficulties during these challenging times. To all of you, we send you our heartfelt greetings and best wishes!
As you resume your work preparing law students to be problem-solvers and influencers, please continue your efforts to increase leadership development activities at your school. For August, we challenge you to try the following:
For readers in the legal academy: Help at least two colleagues find ways to incorporate leadership development in their classes, programs, or other work within the school.Offer specific, concrete ideas or exercises to facilitate their efforts.
For readers who do not hold a full-time position in a law school: Inquire about leadership programming at your alma mater or one with which you have a relationship and offer to help.Feel free to use some of the modules and examples from Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership for a guest lecture, a CLE offering, or a professional development program.
We believe leadership development is helpful and essential, and leadership programs are gaining traction nationally. Please note that the ABA has proposed amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education which impact lawyer leadership. Three important topics may become mandatory for law schools, and they are fundamental topics in well-developed leadership programs. The proposed amendments to Standards 206, 303, and 508 will be voted on at the February 2022 meeting of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. If adopted, the following topics will be required in legal education:
Diversity and inclusion, (now specifically including bias and cross-cultural competency);
professional identity including lawyers’ special obligations to clients and society (which includes topics such as ethics, influence, and leadership); and
In our opinion, these three concepts must be addressed in leadership development courses or programs as they enrich any study of leadership. Deborah Rhode’s inclusion of these concepts in the Introduction and Conclusion of her Leadership for Lawyers textbook reveals her focus upon these concepts. We address these subjects both in individual chapters and woven in discussions throughout our textbook, Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership. To explain the relevance, the language of the proposed amendments to Standards 206, 303, and 508 are included in our Teacher’s Manual (See pages 3, 18, 81, and 124, available as part of the Professor Resources) at the beginning of these three chapters:
Chapter 17: Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Intelligence
Chapter 1: What is Leadership?
Chapter 11: The Importance of Well-Being: Thriving in the Legal Profession.
This is NOT a sales pitch for our book. Our primary goal is to help as you advocate for, create, or enhance leadership development programming at your school. Whether a school or program chooses to adopt our book has nothing to do with that goal. The “leadership team” (Stephen, Liz, Pat, and me) at Baylor Law stands ready to work with other law schools fully embracing the need to develop lawyers who are not only competent practitioners in their chosen career pursuits but also well-rounded professionals who seek to be positive influencers among their family, friends, and clients and to have a meaningful impact on their communities.
We want to be a resource for – and learn from – others. Please let us know how we can work together to make leadership development programs, and legal education generally, better. That IS the reason we wrote the textbook. It was designed not only for use in leadership courses, but also so that individual chapters can be used as modules in orientation, professional identity programs, clinics, academic support programs, career development and student success centers, and any other courses or programs with the goal of better equipping our students for success in their future role as difference makers.
We note that the proposed amendments are not without critics. We share concerns about the lack of attention to the assessment of the effectiveness of any new training. But we are encouraged by the work of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, and its Co-Directors, Professors Neil Hamilton and Jerry Organ, who are leading the national effort to help law schools develop and adopt assessment tools in the form of stage development rubrics. Effective use of such rubrics can help law schools not only satisfy compliance with ABA Standards but also be more intentional about developing law students who are better prepared for the obligations they will assume as practitioners, professionals, and leaders.
We wish you a great start to the new academic year!
Well, he’s Trekkie Monster, and you’re Kate Monster.
You’re both Monsters.
Are you two related?
What?! Princeton, I’m surprised at you! I find that racist!
Oh, well, I’m sorry! I was just asking!
Well, it’s a touchy subject. No, not all Monsters are related. What are you trying say, huh? That we all look the same to you?
The dialog above sets up the song, Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist from the Broadway musical, “Avenue Q.” Beyond the catchy tune, the song acknowledges something we know is true: we all harbor biases about different people based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and a host of other categories like Southerner or Yankee.
With this post, we continue our focus on cultural intelligence, the challenge for the month of July. We noted in the first blog post on this challenge that developing cultural intelligence involves five steps. With this post, we discuss the third step, addressing implicit bias. We challenge you to address the implicit bias you may have learned along the way.
As the song from Avenue Q notes, bigotry has never been exclusively white; we all harbor biases, some overt biases and some implicit or unconscious biases because we are human. Experts believe that implicit biases are the result of adaptive behavior, the need to “function at maximum capacity by finding patterns among information or events or groups of individuals as a way of enabling us to make decisions without really thinking about it” according to Dr. Kierra S. Barnett, a post-doctoral researcher at the Kirwan Institute. Dr. Michelle van Ryan, a professor at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing notes that, “[I]mplicit biases are basically this [learning] system applying whatever information [the system has] learned, even if it’s negative and inaccurate, to whole groups of people.”
That an individual harbors biases doesn’t make him or her a bad person, unless, that individual refuses to acknowledge their own biases or acts out of those biases in ways that cause tangible harm to the people with whom they interact or the organizations with which they work. Plenty of studies in the health care field document the effects implicit bias can have on patient care. For examples, see here and here.
But the impact of implicit bias is not limited to health care. Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan conducted a field study to answer the question, “Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” Bertrand and Mullainathan discovered, using fictitious resumes to respond to help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston, that having a name associated with African Americans (like Jamal and Lakisha) resulted in significantly fewer callbacks for interviews than those candidates assumed to be white because of names like Emily and Greg, even though the credentials were the same.
We in the legal field are not immune to unconscious bias. Researchers from the leadership consulting firm Nextion submitted a legal memo drafted by five law firm partners from different firms to some 53 other partners at 22 law firms who agreed to participate in a writing analysis study, in which they would evaluate the submitted memo. All evaluators were told the memo was written by Thomas Meyer, a third-year associate who was a graduate of NYU Law School. However, approximately half of the evaluators were told the hypothetical Thomas Meyer was black; the other half were told he was white. The average evaluation of the memo by the white Thomas Meyer scored almost a full point higher than that of the black Thomas Meyer, 4.1 versus 3.2. The Nextion researchers were clever; they intentionally inserted 22 errors into the memo. The evaluators of the black Thomas Meyer were more likely to find those errors than the evaluators of the white Thomas Meyer.
We urge you to consider your own biases, particularly your implicit biases. If you have not taken one of the implicit attitude tests that are part of a Harvard study and meant to disclose unconscious biases, I urge you to take one here. We acknowledge that the Harvard has its detractors, but that the IAT may be flawed is not evidence that implicit bias doesn’t exist. Rather, measuring it may be difficult.
Finally, I encourage you to review at least the executive summary of the ABA study, You Can’t Change What You Can’t See: Interrupting Racial & Gender Bias in the Legal Profession. It outlines four patterns of bias in the legal profession: 1) prove-it-again bias; 2) tightrope bias; 3) maternal wall bias; and 4) tug of war bias. Consider whether you, or your firm or organization, may have unwittingly slipped into these patterns. Implicit biases are difficult to change, but we can start by acknowledging them.
The Power of Yet. Professor Carol Dweck labels Growth Mindset as “the power of yet” because you believe that you can improve. She adds that people with growth mindsets are “luxuriating in the power of yet” while those with a fixed mindset are “gripped in the tyranny of now.”
Both phrases remind us to value and reward effort, strategy and progress as we evaluate our students’ current performance. Helping our students push themselves out of their comfort zones in healthy directions allows them to learn and develop in new ways.
Fear of failure and rejection can often be a barrier to new learning and a growth mindset. In Chapter 7 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, we offer a reflection exercise for students in a leadership class or program designed to help them normalize failure as an acceptable aspect of learning and growing.
You’re Not Perfect and That’s Okay!
Think about a mistake you made in the last couple weeks, preferably one that is not too emotionally charged. It could be anything – a mistake you made while learning something new, maybe you misunderstood the instructions for a task at work and did it incorrectly, or maybe a social faux pas where you said something you wish you hadn’t, or you snapped at someone and regretted it later.
What happened? What were the consequences? Did you have the opportunity to correct the mistake? If so, how did it go and how did it make you feel?
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison
Following up on our Grit Challenge and as a companion to the ABA’s 21 day Grit and Growth Mindset Challenge (which starts today), we focus on Growth Mindset, one of the five concepts we view as foundational to Leadership of Self. We will address the remaining three: feedback, failure, and resilience in future posts. Grit strengthens students’ persistence in the face of challenges they face in the demands of law school or the practice of law. As their grit improves, they both address challenges and persevere through them with greater aplomb. They likewise learn to apply grit in circumstances beyond school and career. Beyond grit, however, leaders need to learn to take risks.
Our profession is filled with risk-averse lawyers who embrace the status quo and hate to fail or be criticized. They endorse the maxim “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” These characteristics can be protective, helping us serve clients and avoiding unnecessary risk, but those same tendencies reinforce a fixed mindset. Stanford professor Carol Dweck, the leading researcher on mindset, found that a person with a self-view or mindset that their qualities and abilities are fixed or unchangeable will “want to prove [themselves] correct over and over rather than learning from [their] mistakes.”
As we think about law school environment and culture, one can argue that the traditional approaches to legal education promote a fixed mindset since failure is punished and success is rewarded by grades, law review appointments, and ultimately jobs. But a student who never learns to fail—and consequently grow – is a student who may be tempted to cover up mistakes rather than own them. Lawyers who do this may find themselves facing disciplinary action or client ire. These consequences of settling into a fixed mindset heighten the importance of introducing fixed vs. growth mindset theory early in law school and teaching skills to embrace and develop a growth mindset. Helping students lean into a growth mindset both develops their intellectual curiosity and provides a better approach for dealing with adversity in law school and beyond.
Since recognizing the tendency toward a fixed mindset is fundamental to understanding the issue, we begin our coverage of growth mindset by having our students take The Mindset Quiz. We encourage you to do so as well. How “fixed” is your mindset? Next week we will share more about our development techniques for Leadership of Self fundamentals.
The past pandemic year has highlighted how much we all need to develop our grit and growth mindset! Making time to develop these skills, however, can be challenging. Where and how do I start?
My first exposure to the formal study of grit and growth mindset was through the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession’s Grit Project. We reference several of their scenarios in our textbookand use them as case studies in our leadership class. On June 2, 2021, the Grit Project is launching a 21-Day Grit and Growth Mindset Challenge. We are planning to participate and hope you will too!
By registering for the challenge, we will receive daily emails with content for the 21 Days of Grit and Growth Mindset Challenge. The challenge consists of a 5-15 minute daily commitment to growing your grit through listening to TED Talks and podcasts or reading articles. The goal: to inspire and help us to “develop good habits to exercise your grit (perseverance and passion for long-term goals) and growth mindset (the belief that you can improve in your abilities).” You can do the daily activities on your own or form a Grit Group to unpack the challenges and learnings together.
The 2021 21-Day Grit and Growth Mindset Challenge kicks off on June 2 with an exciting webinar featuring Alison Levine, mountain climber and grit expert. Register for this inspiring webinar here! If you are ready to start on your own grit and growth jury, though, you do not need to wait for June 2. It’s always a good time to get grittier!
In case you missed it: âThe legal
profession doesnât have a leadership problemâit has a character problemâ, by
Charles Edwards. Mr. Edwards post in the ABA Journal is wonderful write-up on
the importance of character in leadership. As Leah and I frequently discuss
with law students, leadership alone is not enough â ethical leadership
is the key to long-term success. By integrating best practices into leadership
courses, we are preparing our students for their future roles.