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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 3

By Leah Teague

As discussed in our last two posts, several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education that were adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

Part 1 was a discussion of the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  Part 2 of this series addressed the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” In this Part 3, we focus on the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 3: Caring for One’s Well-Being is Critical to Success as Lawyer and Leader

The amendment to ABA Standard 508(b) requires law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources.” The proposal also calls for the law schools to work to remove the stigma of accessing mental health and well-being supports on campus and within the legal profession.

New Interpretation 508-1 reads:

Law student well-being resources include information or services related to mental health, including substance use disorders. Other law student well-being resources may include information for students in need of critical services such as food pantries or emergency financial assistance. Such resources encompass counseling services provided in-house by the law school, through the university of which the law school is a part, or by a lawyer assistance program. Law schools should strive to mitigate barriers or stigma to accessing such services, whether within the law school or larger professional community.

New Interpretation 508-2 reads:

Reasonable access, at a minimum, involves informing law students and providing guidance regarding relevant information and services, including assistance on where the information and services can be found or accessed.

This addition to the Standards signals the importance of law schools’ effort to care for all aspects of our students’ development. For students to use their legal knowledge, skills and competencies to achieve their goals (i.e. self-actualization), they must learn to care for themselves and tend to issues related to mental and physical health. Law school is our opportunity to help students develop the healthy strategies they will need to deal with the stress of the practice of law, maintain healthy relationships with family and friends, and manage their time wisely so that they can continue to enjoy the hobbies and passions that are important to them.

Leadership development programs recognize the importance of well-being and provide opportunities for students to identify and adopt healthy practices that will benefit them as they enter the profession. In Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, Chapter 11 (The Importance of Well-Being: Thriving in the Legal Profession) discusses the dimensions of health and shares resources and techniques for long-term practices and habits. In Leadership for Lawyers Chapter 2, Rhode discusses the evolution of well-being, the underlying causes of stress in the legal profession, and suggestions for positive strategies.

Modern law schools are called to go beyond teaching law students to “think” like a lawyer to preparing them for success as whole or complete lawyer (i.e., how to “be” a lawyer) – and a healthy one at that! The efforts to increase professional identity/formation and leadership development programming at law schools are national efforts to address the Carnegie Report’s description of the third stage or apprenticeship of the development. See Growing Number of Leadership Programs and Courses Supports Professional Identity Formation for a further discussion about developing well-rounded lawyers who will be find meaning, satisfaction and success in life using knowledge and skills that are learn (or at least introduced) in law school and developed throughout their careers.  


Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 2

By Leah Teague

As discussed in our last post, several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education that were adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

Part 1 was a discussion of the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  This post is Part 2 of this series and focuses on the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” Part 3 will be a future post to discuss the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 2: Valuing Diversity and Inclusion, Understanding Bias, and Developing Cross-cultural Competency are Fundamental Aspects of Leadership Development

New efforts to encourage diversity, inclusion and cultural competency education resulted in the addition of ABA Standard 303(c), which reads:

(c) A law school shall provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism:

(1) at the start of the program of legal education, and
(2) at least once again before graduation.

For students engaged in law clinics or field placements, the second occasion will take place before, concurrent with, or as part of their enrollment in clinical or field placement courses.

The updated Standards also include new interpretations. New Interpretation 303-6 reads:

With respect to 303(a)(1), the importance of cross-cultural competency to professionally responsible representation and the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law should be among the values and responsibilities of the legal profession to which students are introduced.

New Interpretation 303-7 reads:

Standard 303(c)’s requirement that law schools provide education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism may be satisfied by, among other things, the following:

(1) Orientation sessions for incoming students;
(2) Lectures on these topics;
(3) Courses incorporating these topics; or
(4) Other educational experiences incorporating these topics.

While law schools need not add a required upper-division course to satisfy this requirement, law schools must demonstrate that all law students are required to participate in a substantial activity designed to reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.

New Interpretation 303-8 reads:

Standard 303 does not prescribe the form or content of the education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism required by Standard 303(c).

Many find this important but sensitive subject difficult to teach but these topics have been a mainstay in lawyer-leadership programs from the beginning. Leadership courses and programs have already developed methods for teaching these concepts in a respectful and meaningful manner designed to engage students and prepare them for the future. For example, Chapter 17 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership is titled “Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Intelligence” and combines the coverage of diversity and inclusion with bias and cross-cultural competency. We also include several exercises and discussion prompts in our Teacher’s Manual to assist with these conversations. Chapter 8 of Leadership for Lawyers is titled “Diversity in Leadership.” These issues have always been present in Deborah Rhode’s leadership books but the recently released third edition textbook includes additional material on diversity and inclusion, as well as updated exercises, problems, and media resources.

We note that we are adopting a term we learned from Professor Neil Hamilton. We now refer to this topic as “Diversity and Belonging” which calls us as leaders to seek ways to help each member of our team or group or organization, especially those who have different backgrounds and life experiences, feel valued as a contributing member of the effort. Together we can make a difference as we positively influence those around us, seek ways to meaningfully impact our communities and inspire our students to do the same!


Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 1

By Leah Teague

Several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

In Part 1 below, we focus on the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  Part 2 of this series addresses the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” Part 3 discusses the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 1: Professional Identity Development is Now Required in Legal Education

Lawyers’ role as leaders in society IS a fundamental part of lawyers’ professional identity!

ABA Standards 303(b) was amended to require law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for: … (3) the development of a professional identity.  

Also adopted was new Interpretation 303-5 which reads:

Professional identity focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society. The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice. Because developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time, students should have frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school and in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.

Leadership development IS professional formation. At the core of leadership development efforts is awakening law students to “the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society.” For a visual model of the development of a law student’s professional identity, see the Holloran Center’s Model for How Law School Learning Outcomes Build on Each Other to Foster Student Development. The model presents five groups of competencies in a visual layered progression of law school learning outcomes to help students “grow[] from being a new entrant to the profession to being an integrated effective lawyer serving others well in meaningful employment.” In Group 5 (complex, compound competencies) is “Leadership and Influence in Organizations and Communities.” For a discussion of these competencies, see Neil Hamilton’s Mentor/Coach: The Most Effective Curriculum to Foster Each Student’s Professional Development and Formation. For a discussion of the role of lawyers as leaders in society, see the Preface and Chapter 2 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership and Chapter 1 of Leadership for Lawyers.

Leadership development goes beyond professional identity to teach students how to work well with others and to encourage students to use their education and training to serve others and benefit society. At Baylor Law we see the broader mission of our values-based leadership development program as three-fold:

  • encourage law students and lawyers to embrace their obligation to serve clients and society,
  • better equip law students for positions of leadership and influence, and
  • inspire law students to boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in their communities and the world.

The proposed amendments to Standards 303 (professional identity), 206 (bias, cross-cultural competency and racism) and 508 (student well-being) align with this mission and are important aspects of a law student’s preparation for professional life after law school. Notably, both of the leadership textbooks for law students address all three of these issues. One, of course, is Deborah Rhode’s Leadership for Lawyers (a third edition has recently been released) and the other is our textbook, Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership.

These amendments reinforce our duty to tend to whole development of our students’ professional formation through self-assessment, reflection upon values, and focus on techniques for better decision-making and goal-setting, in addition to the teaching of legal knowledge and skills. The amendment distinguishes professional identity from ethics and professional responsibility courses that are already required in law school: “The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice.” This is likely part of a larger scheme to improve lawyer well-being, which is supported by the amendment to Standard 508. The objective is to equip students with knowledge, skills and priorities that will better enable students to become successful, healthy and impactful lawyers.


With every conversation with leaders in our profession, the importance of our efforts and need for leadership development in law schools is confirmed! Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

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The Dark Side of Goal Setting: Ethical Pitfalls for the Unwary

By Leah Teague

The Dark Side of Goal Setting: Ethical Pitfalls for the Unwary

In the last two weeks we applauded the practice of goal setting – whether helping law students create a plan of action for doing their best work or leading colleagues through a formal strategy to imagine the next 12 months or 10 years. Setting goals is important for a variety of reasons. Creating goals furthers one’s professional development and career advancement. Procedures for establishing and assessing goals are necessary for an organization’s efficient operation. Aligning goals with one’s values and passions promotes wellness and can lead to living one’s best life.

Goal setting also can lead to actions that are dishonorable, unproductive, or harmful. There is a dark side to human behavior when goals are unattainable or performance falls just short of what appears to be a reasonable goal. Goal setting that is too aggressive can lead to unethical behavior, including a lack of independent judgement expected of lawyers.

When faced with the possibility of failure, some may cut corners to meet a goal. Meeting an expectation may be more important to a prideful or insecure person than staying true to their underlying principles and values or even the overall or long-term goal. Unaddressed habits of shortcuts will have consequences, sooner or later. An organization with a culture that tolerates a lack of accountability – or worse encourages dishonesty – cannot have a happy ending. The fall of Enron Corporation is a prime example. In Chapter 9: Setting Goals of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, we discuss Enron:

Leading up to [Enron’s] filing for bank­ruptcy, $320 million in bonus payments and other special cash distributions were paid to Enron executives in accordance with performance-based programs. Prosecutors argued that the executives’ unethical decisions and behavior (setting up shell entities to hide financial losses, etc.) could be traced to large bonuses paid based on the finan­cial performance of the organization. The corruption that ruined lives and toppled a global powerhouse organization ensued from incentivized, performance-based goal setting in an environment devoid of ethical leadership at the top.”

In Chapter 12: Integrity and Character, we return to a discussion of lawyers associated with Enron who failed to ask hard questions or take initiative to investigate when something should have been questioned. Mechanical or rigid goals can dehumanize an organization’s operation and treat employees as if they are merely a cog in the wheel with no allowance for independent judgement or individual action. When lawyers work to simply follow orders or approach their duties with an attitude of meeting minimum expectations, our profession is failing to meet our duty in ABA Model Rule 5.4, Professional Independence of a Lawyer. Lawyers have a higher obligation to society to maintain direction and control of our professional judgment, regardless of the goals set before us. Lessons from Enron must not be forgotten.

Missing the mark, falling short of a goal, has other consequences for those who fail to manage failure in a healthy manner. Without this ability to fail gracefully, some internalize failure, even minor shortcomings, as a condemnation of their entire self-worth. These tendencies are exacerbated when cognitive abilities are taxed, as they often are during law school and beyond. Exhaustion and stress can distract us as we struggle to survive, preventing us from checking behavior against values and professional duties. Failure can also be a challenge for individuals who are used to success, as is often the case with law students. Throughout our course we look for opportunities to normalize failure so that students accept failure as necessary to growth. We teach our students to view failure with a growth mindset.

With the right approach, setting goals and measuring performance accordingly allows organizations to improve operations and meet desired objectives. Personal and professional goals establish a roadmap for creating a more intentional, purpose-driven life. But with any plan, roadblocks, detours, or changes in destinations should be expected and accommodated without compromising principles and purpose, regardless of the pressures and influences along the way.

Ethical obligations should be part of any analysis to weigh the costs and benefits of actions. We know our students will face difficult decisions as they enter a stressful, bottom-line-oriented profession. We also know work-life balance is a strong personal motivation. By emphasizing ethics and values, we will better equip our students and young lawyers to make the right, or better, choices. If we teach students to prioritize them, hopefully they will continue to do so when the stakes are high, such as when a lucrative fee, sizeable bonus, or their future is on the line.

– Leah

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Happy Holidays…

We wish you the happiest of holidays and look forward to ‘seeing’ all of you at the
AALS Annual Meeting in January!


Sessions Sponsored or Co-Sponsored by the Section on Leadership:

Wed. January 5th – 12:35 – 1:50 PM ET – The Deborah Rhode Award Presentation

Wed. January 5th – 12:35 – 1:50 PM ET – Advancing Equality for Clinical Faculty of Color:
Recruitment, Retention, and Support

Wed. January 5th – 3:10 PM ‐ 4:25 PM ET – AALS Open Source Program: The Impact of Deborah Rhode

Fri. January 7th – 11:00 AM ‐ 12:15 PM ET – What Can Research Tell Us About How Law Schools, Lawyers, and
Leaders Can Nourish Democracy?

Fri. January 7th – 3:10 PM ‐ 4:25 PM ET – From Watergate to Insurrection: Fifty Years of Legal Ethics in the U.S.

Fri. January 7th – 4:45 PM ‐ 6:00 PM ET – Anti‐Racism and Clinic Design Choices

Sat. January 8th – 12:35 PM ‐ 1:50 ET – Prioritizing Public Service in Your Role as the Dean: Why it Matters

Sat. January 8th – 3:10 PM ‐ 4:25 ET – Leadership Education as a Component of Anti‐Racist Education in Law Schools

FROM THE TRAINING LAWYERS AS LEADERS TEAM


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Reflection: Essential Practice for Growth

By Leah Teague


What happens when we repeat the same behavior or action over and over again?

Nothing new! The outcome is the same.


We know that, and yet sometimes we find ourselves stuck in a rut and have to learn that lesson again. What are we missing? Adopting a regular practice of reflection can help us learn and move forward to make the difference we seek. Reflective practice, like Aristotle’s practical wisdom, is built on the process of assessing an experience for the purpose of learning from it.

Some law school programs, such as legal clinics, routinely incorporate reflective practice into their training. As Professors Jodi Balsam, Susan Brooks, and Margaret Reuter noted in Assessing Law Students as Reflective Practitioners:

Clinical law teachers widely view reflective practice as fundamental to effective lawyering and the professional identity formation of lawyers, including the pursuit of core values, social justice, and personal growth. Indeed, most professional disciplines, including those related to medicine, mental health, and teaching, recognize reflective practice as a core competency.

Reflective Practice: Thinking About the Way You Do Things offers a further explanation and this visual approach to a reflective practice:

For a more detailed explanation of the steps in a reflective practice, and a helpful worksheet for your use, go to Reflective-Practice-in-the-Workplace.pdf (duke.edu).

The end of any period (such as the end of fall classes or the end of 2021) is an ideal time to be thoughtful and reflective before embarking on your next round of activities and duties. The challenge is finding time in the busyness of life to put that into practice. We encourage you to set aside the time to reflect, analyze, and plan for your future.

Challenge for December:

  1. Pick one activity in your life you wish were better/stronger/different and set aside one hour to reflect, analyze and plan.
  2. Building upon our gratitude focus last month, December provides an ideal time to send a holiday message to one of your groups (students from your fall class, colleagues, family or friend group). Before sending the message, reflect on your relationship with that group and then write a message that feels most appropriate. Your message could be sharing your appreciation for that group because of the significant role they play in your life and then suggesting your next interaction with them. You might use the message as an opportunity to reach out to heal a past hurt or clear up a misunderstanding. The possibilities are many! The message should be whatever your think best after thoughtful contemplation about the relationship.

We wish you the Happiest of Holidays!

– LEAH

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Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Beyond Thanksgiving

By Leah Teague


“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”

– Cicero


Some practice a Thanksgiving tradition in which they share something (or someone) for which they are thankful. As we focus on well-being and celebrate Thanksgiving next week, it seems fitting to focus on the benefits of practicing gratitude. Rather than relegating thankfulness or gratitude to once a year, studies show tremendous benefits to practicing gratitude as part of our daily routine.

A gratitude practice may be especially beneficial for students experiencing the stress of law school. Students naively believe that life will magically be better/easier after law school, but we know such is not the case. The practice of law, and life, can grind up and wear down the best of us. Gratitude positively effects the well-being of both the person showing appreciation and the receiver.

This week before Thanksgiving is a perfect time to encourage our students, as well as our colleagues and loved ones, to practice gratitude regularly and offer suggestions on incorporating a gratitude practice.

Benefits of Gratefulness

The value of a gratitude practice is well established. In The Secret to Happiness (Part 2) – Gratitude, a blog post for the Massachusetts Lawyer Assistance Program, Dr. Shawn Healy noted:

Gratitude helps you put things in perspective. Specifically, it helps prevent your view of your situation from becoming overly negative. We have a tendency to see our situations in reference to the predominate emotional evaluation we experience. In other words, if our day seems more than 50% negative, we experience our entire day as negative. Likewise, if our day seems more than 50% positive, we have a better chance of experiencing our day as positive. Since everyday has both positive and negative aspects, it all depends on what you focus on. A day with one significant negative event can taint the entire day if that negative event is the focus on our attention.

Gratitude has a physiologic effect on us, and the benefits can be demonstrated scientifically, as Travis Whitsitt noted in a recent blog post, The Value of A Gratitude Practice for Lawyers and Law Students (And Tips For Starting One):

The regular practice of gratitude has been shown to decrease the body’s stress response, which in turn boosts immune performance. Studies have suggested it lowers the risk of heart disease, and studies consistently demonstrate that it reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression while linking it to an overall improved mood. It can also improve relationships, both romantic and otherwise, with studies showing that partners who demonstrate gratitude toward each other experience improved happiness and relationship satisfaction. Studies also demonstrate that optimistic people suffer less from the negative effects of aging, and a gratitude practice has actually been shown to shift one’s outlook toward optimism when employed over time. In a profession rife with stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout, the above benefits sound pretty good to me.

Make the Easy Choice

From the repository of the “Pendleton Judicial Training Updates,” Retired Judge Pendleton from Minnesota reminds lawyers that we have an easy choice each day “between two possible daily mindsets:

1. A mindset where you are grateful for the opportunity to excel in a challenging field and happy just to be involved, or

2. A mindset of struggling and griping about every inch of gained ground, never satisfied with the outcome.

When you read those two choices, no one would consciously pick the second one. Yet when the bell rings and your day begins, many attorneys (and judges) allow themselves to revert to an adversarial mental state (choice #2). Besides the negative affect on the quality of your own life, a non-grateful daily attitude also has a profound impact on how you are perceived by others, including your friends and colleagues. Of course, most of you already know which local attorneys and judges fall into that second category. Don’t be one of them.”

Gratitude Exercise

We offer this gratitude exercise in Chapter 11 of the Teacher’s Manual for Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership:

Gratitude Wall

Gratitude exercises allow for reflection on influential people and the milestones they made possible. A gratitude wall will enable students to show their recognition in a public way. The instructions for this exercise are simple. Have the students take 1-3 post-it notes and write down one thing they are grateful for on the note. Then have the students or lawyers place the post-it notes on the wall of the classroom or meeting room or a large poster board.

A variation on the gratitude wall is gratitude cards. For these, pass out note cards and have them write down one thing they are grateful for on each card and review these cards every day. In a following class or meeting, discuss how this exercise impacted their daily lives.

“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” -G.K. Chesterton

We wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

– LEAH

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Leadership Training Discussion on EdUp Legal


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.

Dean Roberts’s Podcast can be found, here: https://lnns.co/kWUeRhMXJd8

And the episode with Prof. Teague, is here: https://lnns.co/kPC2NJqEbuO

Are there other legal training, law school, or other podcasts that legal educators should be listening to? Add your suggestions in the comments, below.

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Join Us This Thursday: Leadership Lessons from George Washington


VIRTUAL EVENT
THURSDAY, SEPT. 16, 2021 @ 4:30PM CDT

Baylor Law invites you to join us this Thursday as Talmage Boston interviews David O. Stewart about his latest book, George Washington – The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father, and they discuss the leadership lessons we can all learn from our first President. 

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.)

Pleae RSVP at baylor.edu/law/EventRSVP. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Stephen Rispoli at 254.710.3927 or stephen_rispoli@baylor.edu.

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Can a lawyer’s emotional intelligence really be more predictive of success than IQ?

By Leah Teague


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:

  1. What a person knows about themselves (self-awareness);
  2. What a person does with this understanding of their emotions to control or guide their impulses (self-management or regulation);
  3. What a person knows about others (social awareness); and
  4. 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.

Our Challenge:

Spend time this month exploring emotional intelligence. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, start with:

Record Your Observation

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.