In April 1955, Dean of Harvard Law School Erwin Griswold noted, "Many lawyers never seem to understand they’re dealing with people and not solely with impersonal law” — a comment that unfortunately continues to ring true today, when the legal profession’s reputation suffers from an image characterized by a lack of interpersonal sensibilities.
One of the first law school courses in the nation to apply human relations training to law was taught by Professor Howard Sacks at Northwestern Law School during the 1957-58 school year. The two-week course, entitled "Professional Relations," was offered without credit. Professor Sacks appealed to other law teachers to join in his experiment, both by offering stand-alone courses and integrating human relations training into the regular law curriculum. But a law review article written by Harvard Law Professor Alan Stone in 1971 noted that "law schools . . . have largely ignored the responsibility of teaching interviewing, counseling, negotiating, and other human relations skills."
Legal academics continue to take the position that lawyers must learn to be more effective interpersonally. As Vanderbilt University Law Professor Chris Guthrie summarizes it, "Lawyers are analytically oriented, [and] emotionally and interpersonally underdeveloped."
It’s more than just a matter of being “nice.” Our survey of Emotional Intelligence and Excellence in Lawyering shows lawyers who are listed in Best Lawyers in America score significantly higher in emotional intelligence than the average lawyer. There’s excellence in that intelligence.
To participate in our study, see our entry “Emotional Intelligence and Excellence in Lawyering” under the topic Emotional Intelligence.