Mark your calendars! Panelists Ronda Muir from Law People Management and Natalie Loeb and David Sarnoff from Loeb Leadership will be discussing emotional intelligence in the legal workplace at the New York City Bar Association at 42 W 44th St, New York, NY on Thursday, April 16, from 6:30 till 8:30 pm. The program can also be attended by live webcast.

The focus will be on understanding what emotional intelligence means for lawyers and how to use it to improve your communication, client service and leadership skills and to help create a high performance, high functioning workplace. Tri-state CLE credit is offered. You can register here to attend either in person or by webcast. Both is free for NYC Bar members.

 

As we head into a new year and a new decade, let’s take a look at the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (CIMON), brought to us by IBM, the German Aerospace Center and Airbus, that took up residence on the International Space Station in November. CIMON was the first autonomous free-floating robot aboard the station and the first astronaut assistant. Two weeks ago an updated CIMON-2 was launched for a three-year stay.

What was the update?  Better hardware and better software, of course, that provides more extensive data storage and retrieval functions. But this time CIMON-2 is also loaded with emotional intelligence skills “to help alleviate . . . the social issues that might arise from settings in which a small team works in close quarters over a long period.” For example, the robot has the benefit of the IBM Watson Tone Analyzer, which analyzes emotions during a conversation to sense how people are feeling. Is someone happy? Angry? Depressed?

One of the objectives of the robot design team was to develop countermeasures to “groupthink,” where people who work closely together tend to coalesce in their opinions.  Think of the similarities in opinions found in common news feeds and family/friends confirmations. The emotionally intelligent CIMON-2 is geared to provide objective and even contrarian perspectives when it detects groupthink.

So what’s the take-away? Emotional intelligence is not just some “nice-guy” skill. It provides us and our teams and families with the practical abilities to perform at our best, regardless of the setting–whether in space, in the office or at the dinner table. It brings heart and head together. Now that’s something to celebrate in the New Year!

The College of Law Practice Management inducted its new Fellows at its annual conference held last weekend–October 24-25–in Nashville, TN. Ronda Muir, founder of Law Practice Management LLC and author of Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence, was one of those honored. The highlight of the conference was hearing from a couple dozen highly expert Fellows, Fellows-to-be and others talk about the state of law practice and their visions for the future. The welcoming address was made by former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is Dean and professor at Belmont University College of Law. On Muir’s panel addressing Resilience and the High-Performance Culture were Fellow Stewart Levine and consultant Renee Branson. Other panels addressed innovations in the legal industry in firm and lawyer compensation, leadership roles, business development, client services, analytics, AI and other technological applications and ways to provide more accessibility. What a world of interesting changes these highly qualified experts see for the legal industry!

For a limited time, Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence is on sale! From September 23-27, you can order the book online or by calling the ABA service center at 800-285-2221 using the discount code FALL2019.

Beyond Smart is the first comprehensive guide to understanding, using and raising emotional intelligence in the unique context of law practice. This user-friendly practical resource is designed for legal professionals who desires to improve their communication, client service and leadership skills and create a high performance, high functioning workplace.

Get the book and get your emotional intelligence on!

There’s a reason that SAP, Google, Aetna and IBM all have Chief Mindfulness Officers–they are explicitly trying to address the emotional fallout among their ranks in tech-revolutionized workplaces. But those working in legal workplaces are also feeling emotional fallout, from technological pressures, isolation and other major stressors, as the Law.com Minds Over Matters project conducted over a full year makes crystal clear. So it is encouraging to see that there are those at the top in law starting to step up to support those at risk.

Dentons recognizes that in looking at the legal workplace of the future, “people are going to continue to be the differentiator,” in that “the critical part of the legal workflow will be the human interactions and the humanity that we bring.” To that end it has developed a comprehensive program called NextTalent that has resulted in some substantial programs, promisingly innovative but still rare in the legal world, which emphasize the development of emotional intelligence: “Dentons sees its NextTalent initiative filling the need … for the next generation of lawyers [to] be globalists and adaptable to working with different people from different backgrounds and different cultures from across the world … by focusing on emotional intelligence.”

So the firm is piloting several programs in different countries to see what works best, including introducing various assessments to see which helps their people best understand and improve their EI skills, offering eight-week mindfulness programs, and experimenting with teamwork and leadership trainings borrowed from other industries.

One Dentons pilot program called Ginger Emotional Support, an on-demand component of their “Wellness for Life” initiative, has been instituted in 6 California offices, Phoenix and Honolulu, offering coaching services by text, video or in-person. If needed, an onsite wellness coach can help address professional or personal issues through direct counseling or by making referrals. That is in addition to the firm’s “headspace in the workplace” pilot program which promotes meditation and mindfulness for enhanced mental health.

More recently has come Dentons’ appointment of a Warsaw tax partner as “Chief Mindfulness Officer” for Europe, specifically charged with, of course, developing lawyers’ emotional intelligence.

“It is odd that we’re all spending tens of millions of dollars on new tools and new technology for the legal talent we have, but we’re not spending even more on finding ways for these lawyers and professional staff to find more fulfillment in their jobs,” Joe Andrew, Dentons’ Global Chair, notes. As Jay Connolly, Dentons’ Global Chief Talent Officer, puts it: “I want our talent to wake up in the morning and think, ‘I love coming to work. This is where I want to be.”

Even if your firm or department hasn’t caught up to to providing these types of programs, there are always other avenues, like the myriad podcasts, for example, that lawyers everywhere can access to help assess, explore and build their personal and interpersonal skills. Among many are those provided by the ABA (including specifically for law students)Stanford Law School, the Florida Bar, the Happy Lawyer Project, and Lawsome.

Let us hope that this is the beginning of a race to the top–to develop the emotional intelligence of lawyers worldwide, a goal benefiting all the stakeholders in the legal firmament.

 

We are proud to announce that Ronda Muir has been chosen as a Fellow-Elect of the College of Law Practice Management, with her induction to take place at the College’s 2019 Futures Conference on October 24-25 in Nashville, Tenn. Muir will be serving on a panel discussing “Resilience and the High-Performance Culture.”

The College of Law Practice Management was formed in 1994 to honor and recognize distinguished law practice management professionals, to set standards of achievement for others in the profession, and to fund and assist projects that enhance the highest quality of law practice management.”

Join us there for a two-day conference discussing some of the most pressing issues and innovative solutions in law practice today.

Starting with the class of 2023, Yale Law School is joining a couple dozen other law schools, including Harvard, Penn, Georgetown and NYU, in offering applicants the opportunity to take the GRE instead of the LSAT as an entrance requirement. The question, logically enough, is whether that change in entrance exam will make any difference in the makeup of the class.

Peter Salovey, Yale University’s current President, was the Yale psychology researcher back in the ’90s who, while still formulating his theory of emotional intelligence, studied mood, including whether mood affects deductive or inductive reasoning abilities. To that end, in his surveys of participants, he used questions from the LSAT as examples requiring deductive reasoning. He concluded that a depressed mood produced significantly better performance in deductive reasoning (which starts from a general premise and analyzes whether specific instances are included within that premise), while an elevated mood produced better performance in inductive reasoning (which arrives at a general premise from specific instances). One logical fallout of that study, therefore, is that those who do well on the LSAT, while making them more likely to be accepted into law school, are also more likely to be feeling somewhat “down,” and more susceptible to depression or other evidences of poor mood regulation.

The GRE, in contrast to the LSAT, uses more instances of inductive than deductive reasoning in its questions. Therefore, those with more elevated moods may well do better on that exam than they would on the LSAT. As a added dividend, they also may be less likely to suffer from the scourge of depression that has been documented by, among other studies, the 2016 ABA-Hazelden study, which found over 28% of surveyed lawyers suffering from clinical depression, a whopping six times the national average, and almost half relating instances of depression over their career.

Let’s hope that the GRE helps put lawyers as a group on a more stable and uplifting emotional platform.

 

Muir and Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence were both cited in the IBA article entitled “Why Lawyers Need to be Taught more Emotional Intelligence.” Author Polly Botsford reaches out to several authorities on emotional intelligence around the globe and reports that lawyers are becoming more aware of the need for emotional intelligence in the practice of law and also for improving their own.