Law People

Law People

Better Law Practice Through Better People Management

The Emotionally Intelligent CEO in Training

Posted in Conflict, Culture, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, Recruitment, Teamwork

If you are thinking of applying to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, you will now have to demonstrate you have some emotional intelligence skills.

Last month, the Tuck School announced that it would henceforth look for applicants who, in addition to being smart and accomplished, possess two other qualities: nice and aware. Or, as compressed on Twitter, “don’t be a jerk.”

“What we’re looking for is emotional intelligence, empathy and respect for others,” Luke Anthony Peña, executive director of admissions and financial aid at Tuck, said. “Tuck is a distinctly collaborative community, so being able to challenge others tactfully and thoughtfully is important.”

Traditional evaluations of grades, test scores and experiences will be supplemented with the addition of questions on applicant essays and recommendation forms that get to the “nice and aware” attributes. Applicants will be asked: “Tuck students are nice, and invest generously in one another’s success. Share an example of how you helped someone else succeed.” Those submitting references will be asked to respond to this statement: “Tuck students are nice. Please comment on how the candidate interacts with others including when the interaction is difficult or challenging.”

Following closely this approach to applications, which is spreading through US business schools, law schools across the country are starting to….

Oh, wait, that, of course, is not the case. While law schools are dropping the requirement of applicants providing LSATs and other types of cognitive scores, they aren’t about to join the anti-jerk movement any time soon. How could law schools justify such a move when law firms and law departments reward such attributes in some of their highest earning professionals?

Let’s not focus on “nice.” Let’s just start with “aware.” That is the first challenge for lawyers worldwide–realizing that expertise, including legal expertise, is of much greater value if it is delivered to clients, staff and adversaries in an emotionally sophisticated way. In other words, gaining that “awareness” that Tuck has homed in on in its application process.


The Largest Discount Yet on Best Seller Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence

Posted in Announcements, Assessments, Books, Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Conflict, Decision-Making, Diversity, Emotional Intelligence, Ethics, Law Departments, Law Education, Leadership, Mentoring, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Uncategorized

Don’t let your summer go by without getting the ABA’s best seller Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence. To make it even less painful for you to brush up on your EI skills, you can now get Beyond Smart in either paperback or e-book at a 25% discount using Discount Code ABASUM25. Let the wisdom begin!


Overcoming the Crowd and Fear

Posted in Conflict, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Professional Development, Risk Management, Uncategorized

Given the recent post about the power of crowdsourcing in predicting judicial decisions, for those who go against the group, there is another intriguing result: their brains light up in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. In “Why Do People Follow the Crowd?” a recent groundbreaking experiment found that when people “go along with the crowd” even when they don’t really agree, which often happens, it may be because hearing other opinions — even if they are wrong — can actually change what we see, distorting our own perceptions.

Using an fMRI, experimenters found that, during the moment of decision, subjects’ brains lit up not in the area where thinking takes place, but in the back of the brain, where vision is interpreted, i.e., people actually believed what others told them they were seeing, not what they saw with their own eyes.

And for those who went against the group, the fact that their brains lit up in the amygdala–the emotional center, signaled that they were experiencing “the fear of standing alone,” according to the experimenters.

So the courage to stand for what we see or believe can come from using emotional perception and regulation skills to identify and manage that fear.

That Old Crowd Feeling for Supreme Court Decisions

Posted in Books, Client Service, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Professional Development, Risk Management, Uncategorized

In an interesting recent study entitled “Crowdsourcing Accurately and Robustly Predicts Supreme Court Decisions,” the conclusion is, as advertised, that “crowdsourcing outperforms both the commonly accepted ‘always guess reverse’ model and the best-studied algorithmic models.” Using a dataset and analysis that represents one of the largest explorations of recurring human prediction to date, the accuracy of prediction for this real-world context was 80.8%, the highest-known performance level of any method studied. What this means is that group guesses outperform any other method of predicting Supreme Court decisions.

What makes this finding particularly interesting is that Randy Kiser in his book Beyond Right and Wrong: The Power of Effective Decision Making For Attorneys and Clients uses his data to demonstrate that lawyers as a group, even well-seasoned litigation lawyers, are not particularly good at guessing trial outcomes, impairing their abilities to evaluate settlement offers.

One possible resolution of that apparent inconsistency is the fact that lawyers on average have lower emotional intelligence than the general population. Emotional intelligence has been described in other studies as the “emotional oracle effect” of successful predictions--including predictions of weather, Presidential nominations, movie box-office results, American Idol winners, stock market performance, awards, college football games, and other competitions.

Being able to identify and trust one’s emotional responses that have been developed over a life-time can provide the performance edge that can help lawyers assess and predict cases, jury responses and judicial decisions.


Don’t Miss the YLD Emotional Intelligence Webinar and Facebook Live Session!

Posted in Announcements, Books, Business Development, Client Service, Coaching, Compensation, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Law Education, Leadership, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Risk Management, Uncategorized, Wellness

It was a racing good time at the YLD Spring Conference in Louisville, KY last week and the keynote topic was using emotional intelligence to advance your career. If you missed attending, you can still see a related webinar replay online here, and watch the facebook live recording, accessible here, where Muir answers questions about this important subject.

Record-breaking views of this session hold the promise that this generation of lawyers may be the first truly able to lawyer with emotional intelligence–a skill that can reverse the emotional distress shattering many lawyers’ personal and professional lives and also give lawyers a critical edge over the intelligent machines that lack the deep relationship skills that human clients want.

For those interested in purchasing Muir’s book, Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence, available in paper back and ebook, use discount code YLD30.

Where do you stand on this very important attribute?

Associate-Initiated Reviews

Posted in Assessments, Client Service, Coaching, Communication, Compensation, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Productivity, Professional Development, Recruitment, Retention, Uncategorized

One of the trends in corporate America that is starting to show up in law firms is the replacement of the old annual review with frequent real time reviews. Advocates of the new approach say the annual review focuses too much on past behavior, and often on behavior long in the past. At least two global law firms have initiated such ongoing performance assessments that are driven by the associates themselves.

Corporate supervisors have found that “giving people instant feedback, tying it to individuals’ own goals, and handing out small weekly bonuses to employees” is a more effective way of reinforcing desired behaviors and managing performance. As many as a third of corporations have signed on, with tech companies leading the way, but more traditional companies like PwC, Deloitte and GE are also among the converts. Estimates are that upwards of 79% of corporations are considering the move.

Part of the issue is the underlying philosophy of whether personal attributes can be developed over time. If not, a frank up-or-out appraisal may be all that’s needed. On the other hand, in a tight market where Millennials prize personal growth and research testifies to the malleability of many personal attributes — like emotional intelligence, frequent check-ins for course adjustments in an associate’s growth can benefit both the individual and the firm. The fast pace of business also argues for a more fluid and quick-moving response to performance.

This approach does require capable communication and motivation skills, which may be a challenge both for supervising lawyers and associates. Having an associate approach them for a review may result in more defensiveness or stonewalling than enlightenment from a supervisor. Over weighting comments on the positive side–but also making sure the associate knows what needs to be improved–can best mold future behavior. Research also clearly establishes that praising effort over results produces more attempts and ultimately higher performance. This is particularly effective with lawyers whose resilience levels are notoriously low and who may fold at any indication of failure. Assessing a particular associate’s strengths rather than creating organization-wide hierarchies in pay or position that can put them at odds with their colleagues also promotes collaboration and teamwork, essential attributes of 21st Century law practices.

Associates need to approach their supervising attorneys at appropriate times and without the defensiveness typical of lawyers, keeping a “I want to improve” mindset rather than one critical of their assignments or supervision. Being able to dialogue about issues and brainstorm possible improvements should be a joint undertaking that both parties contribute to.

Building the firm’s or department’s overall emotional intelligence is the best foundation for more frequent and more effective performance appraisals, regardless of who initiates them.




Join the Young Lawyers Division’s Day Saluting Emotional Intelligence!

Posted in Announcements, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Ethics, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Retention, Risk Management, Uncategorized

On Friday, May 11th, as part of the 2018 YLD Spring Conference being held this year in Louisville, Kentucky, Muir will be participating in several programs on the topic of “Advancing Your Career with Emotional Intelligence,” starting with the opening address at 8AM EDT, followed by a free webinar at 1PM EDT (or register on facebook), immediately followed at 2PM EDT by a facebook live session for interactive questions with Muir.

Young lawyers may be so focused on mastering the substantive part of lawyering that they ignore the emotional aspects of practicing law that can impact their careers. These programs will uncover how increasing one’s emotional intelligence, and particularly emotional perception, can help young lawyers and law students perform better, improve problem-solving skills, be more resilient, improve their mental and physical well-being, and improve their relationships with colleagues, clients, opposing counsel, and judges.



Artificial Intelligence Beats Out Lawyers Again

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Emotional Intelligence, Innovation, Profitability, Recruitment, Risk Management, Uncategorized

In a recent study analyzing accuracy in reviewing provisions of five NDAs, an artificial intelligence program achieved 94% accuracy versus 85% average accuracy for a group of 20 experienced lawyers. The most accurate lawyer equaled the accuracy of the AI program, but the least accurate lawyer clocked in at only 74% accuracy, an alarming statistic for an “expert.” Further, it took an average time of 92 minutes for each lawyer to review all five agreements, while it took a total time of 26 seconds (not a typo) for the AI program to review them all.

Using IBM Watson analytics, Ross Intelligence’s legal research program can read 40 million documents in 15 seconds. Users ask spoken questions and Ross reads through “the entire body of law” and returns a cited answer and topical readings from legislation.

Voltaire software introduced in 2015 helps lawyers pick the “right” jurors. Also powered by IBM Watson, Voltaire searches through billions of data points, including public records and social media posts, to pull up within minutes all kinds of information on prospective jurors and then uses deep psycho-linguistic and behavioral analysis to discover their biases and views and to deliver real-time predictions on how they might vote. Think the science behind the fictional “Bull” television show. Since its debut, Voltaire has provided information to attorneys in over 100 trials.

There’s also the “robot lawyer” app that can process thousands of parking tickets and the “judge” avatar that can predict with 85% accuracy the outcome of trials, both of which we’ve reported on before. 

Do these kind of developments have anything to do with continuing reports of the loss of jobs in the legal sector–already down 1,000 just in the first quarter of 2018–and the shrinking of firms country-wide?

This steady erosion of not only human legal jobs but also human superiority in legal expertise will within only a matter of years, not even decades, change entirely what clients are looking for in their lawyers. Technological know-how and management skills, yes, but more importantly, the deep human relationship skills that high emotional intelligence provides.



The Facebook Connection to Emotional Intelligence

Posted in Books, Culture, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Productivity, Uncategorized

As discussed in Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence, Facebook has figured in a number of projects touching on emotional intelligence. First, since Mark Zuckerberg evidently believes that, “What [members] really want is the ability to express empathy,” Facebook introduced a “dislike” button for users to show their empathy by responding to sad news.

Facebook has also used access to its membership to participate in research projects related to emotional intelligence. Facebook worked with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation on a large-scale project involving surveying 22,000 students about their emotional well-being in order to design a program for preventing and decreasing online bullying, a form of emotional aggression that indicates a lack of emotional empathy. One of the findings is that four out of the top five emotions students experience at school are predominantly negative.

Further, in a study published in early June 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Facebook and Cornell University randomly altered the news feeds of 689,003 Facebook users by subtracting either happy or sad words in order to see what happened. Those users were then found to reflect in their own posts fewer happy or sad words in accordance with how their news feeds had been altered. While the impact of the manipulation appears to be very small, a controversy arose at the time because of the fear of potential mass emotional influence and because Facebook didn’t notify users of the experiment or get their consent. What the manipulation proved, however, was how what we hear and see influences at least to some degree our own emotions, consistent with theories of emotional contagion, but probably diluted by the distance and sporadic nature of the interactions.

Much was made of whether there was a review board clearance of the ethics of the research. Yes, there was, according to Susan Fiske, the Princeton University psychology professor who edited the study for publication. The authors of the study confirmed that their local institutional review board had approved it—but apparently on the grounds that “Facebook  manipulates people’s News Feeds all the time”– hardly a reassuring conclusion.

The ongoing nationwide dialogue about the protection and use of our private data will no doubt continue, but let’s also be aware of the ability of massive news and social platforms to actually shape our moods–and therefore our judgement and productivity.

Muir to Speak at ARK Group’s Annual Business Intelligence and Analytics Conference

Posted in Announcements, Client Service, Communication, Conflict, Culture, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Management, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Risk Management, Teamwork, Uncategorized

Ark Group’s 7th Annual Conference on Business Intelligence and Analytics in the Legal Profession will be held April 26th, 2018 at the SUNY Global Center, New York, NY. The conference topic is how analytics are being used to accelerate productivity across key firm dimensions – driving the development of standards, metrics and processes reflective of the firm’s broader business strategy.

LPM’s Muir will be participating on the panel “From Codes to Predictive Legal Economics” at 3:45 pm to discuss how to use data on personal styles and emotional intelligence to promote collaboration and decision-making among an array of professionals that involve different types of (sometimes competitive) expertise— including lawyers, marketers and pricing professionals.

Register to attend here.

To arrange for a registration discount for Law People readers, please contact LPM at

See you there!