Law People

Law People

Better Law Practice Through Better People Management

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!

The Physics of Emotion

Posted in Communication, Conflict, Culture, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Teamwork, Uncategorized

Dr. Candace Pert was, among many other posts, the chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health before going into private research. She passed away suddenly a few years ago, but her research has made notable contributions to the study of emotional intelligence.

In an interview, The Physics of Emotion, Pert explains that neurotransmitters called peptides carry chemical messages triggered by our emotions to every corner of our bodies. “As our feelings change, this mixture of peptides travels throughout your body and your brain. And they’re literally changing the chemistry of every cell in your body.” These peptides also create an electrochemical charge that radiates both within our bodies and without. “We’re vibrating like a tuning fork — we send out a vibration to other people. We broadcast and receive. Thus the emotions orchestrate the interactions among all our organs and systems,” according to Pert.

This discovery makes apparent the importance of our emotional state to every part of our minds and bodies and dispels once and for all any lingering Cartesian sentiments about their separation. An example of the operation of this discovery is the well-documented and widespread physical and mental damage that ongoing stress hormones wreck on those perennially stressed. This also suggests a physiological basis for the phenomenon of emotional contagion, which has long been established. Emotions, particularly those felt by people in a higher power position, quickly emanate to and are reproduced in those around them. These emotions may well be contagious because we are physically “transmitting” them, whether on purpose or not, to others who pick up our vibrations.

This research also makes plain that trying to consciously and cognitively suppress emotions is doomed to fail. Suppression has been demonstrated to intensify emotions, not eliminate them. Having the emotional intelligence skills to be able to accurately monitor and then internally change our felt emotions is the avenue to improving the messages we are sending to every cell of our bodies and to our colleagues and loved ones, as well.


NYU Law School Program: Using Emotional Intelligence for Successful and Satisfying Legal Careers

Posted in Announcements, Assessments, Books, Business Development, Client Service, Communication, Conflict, Culture, Decision-Making, Diversity, Emotional Intelligence, Ethics, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Teamwork, Uncategorized, Wellness, Work Satisfaction

Join us at 12:45 pm on Wednesday, February 28, when Ronda Muir will be making a lunchtime presentation at NYU Law School on Using Emotional Intelligence for Successful and Satisfying Legal Careers and signing copies of her book Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence. For more information and to register, go here. See you there!


A Valentine’s Warning

Posted in Uncategorized

Now that Valentine’s Day is past, you might want to reconsider that intraoffice romance you’ve been contemplating and your firm or department might want to consider what kind of procedures to put in place to protect all of their lawyers from unwanted advances and from liability–whether unintentional or not. “When Lawyers Court: Dating in Law Firms,” by Gayle Cinquegrani, published in Bloomberg Law’s Big Law Business on February 14, 2018, quotes Muir and other consultants in cautioning lawyers and legal workplaces about the potential #MeToo exposure in business as usual.

February Discount on Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence!

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


Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence has been chosen as one of the ABA’s  Top 2017 Legal Titles.  For those who haven’t yet gotten this comprehensive guide to understanding and using emotional intelligence in the unique context of practicing law, you can buy it here for yourself and others in paperback or as an E-book at a 30% discount through the end of February, 2018. Just enter the discount code YR17E when you check out.  Go here for more information.




BigLaw Firm Welcomes Leadership Women

Posted in Culture, Diversity, Innovation, Leadership, Management

Congratulations to BigLaw firm Drinker Biddle & Reath for becoming an industry headliner: half of both of its two main leadership bodies are now women. As of Feb. 1, the firm’s managing partners committee of 8 has 4 women and the firm’s executive management team of 4 has 2women.

To give perspective to this development, according to the National Association of Women Lawyers’s 2017 annual survey report, the average firm has 12 people on its highest level governance committee, of whom, on average, only 3–or one-fourth–are women.

How did this happen? Drinker Biddle’s women’s leadership committee reached out to  eligible women lawyers to determine who were interested in running and then spread the word about those who were. “It’s just making sure that, No. 1, the women make sure they put their hands up if they would like to be considered, and [No. 2], people know” those women are eligible, said Lynne Anderson, co-chairwoman of the women’s leadership committee, noting that the aim was not to pressure a vote for particular candidates, but to make sure the members knew these women were interested in leadership.

Potential Legal Workplace Liability Expands Further in the #MeToo Age

Posted in Culture, Diversity, Emotional Intelligence, Ethics, Law Departments, Law Education, Leadership, Management, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Risk Management, Uncategorized

On Monday, February 5, 2018, Resolution 302 was adopted unanimously by the American Bar Association expanding the ABA’s existing provisions, dating back to 1992, in the case of harassment or retaliation based on gender, gender identity and sexual orientation in legal workplaces and by any one (including third parties) connected with legal work, wherever that conduct occurs. Provisions include requirements, among others, that at least one confidential anonymous reporting method (such as a hotline) be instituted; prompt, fair investigations of all complaints occur, with a written resolution to complainant; compensatory and corrective actions, including disciplinary measures, take place; disclosure is made to the highest level of management of any settlement amount paid; and regular and effective training programs be instituted.

“There can hardly be a resolution more timely than 302,” said Stephanie Scharf, chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, the resolution’s chief sponsor, while one delegate pointed out that “this resolution … is primarily about men…Men must say, ‘time’s up’.”

Rule 8.3 and revised Rule 8.4 of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct adopted in August 2016 had already expanded legal workplace liability for harassment and discrimination and lawyers’ related failure to report any misconduct. Rule 8.4 prohibits behaving in ways “the attorney knows or should reasonably know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” And Rule 8.3 requires that those who observe another lawyer’s misconduct have an obligation to “inform the appropriate professional authority.”

Those rules in combination with this new resolution will put many lawyers and their legal organizations and all those who service or work with them on notice of a gigantically expanded exposure not only to financial liability, but, as recent examples like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Steve Wynn and former U.S. Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski have shown, to professional ruin, as well. Make no mistake: these are provisions that the increasing population of Millennials in law will take very seriously and will not be afraid to pursue.

What is it that makes lawyers so vulnerable to the historically mounting filing of sexual harassment suits and the rising tide that may well follow these provisions?

As we pointed out in Scandals at the Gates, low emotional intelligence definitely plays a part. While some lawyers no doubt consciously and purposefully harass and discriminate, many more stumble because of their deficits in navigating work and social relationships. The primary deficit is in emotional awareness–which has been demonstrated to be lawyers’ Achilles heel. A failure to accurately read the emotional cues being given by their colleagues–ones that clearly spell disinterest or more strongly offense, disgust and rejection–can lead lawyers down what may seem to them an acceptable path. Low emotional empathy keeps them from appreciating the distress they are causing. And their understanding of emotions, which lawyers theoretically are better at than in other more underdeveloped emotional areas, is hampered by having the incorrect emotional data to start out with–again that emotional awareness deficit wrecking havoc. Finally, deficits in managing emotions–not knowing what to do or not being able to properly do what they may know should be done–can prompt behavior that makes the original sin even worse.

In Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence, Muir discusses how taking steps to raise emotional intelligence among lawyers and legal organizations can help address these and other challenges facing the legal industry in the 21st Century–and avoid the tsunami of liability and ruin that looking the other way may expose us to.