Monday, May 16, 2011

Empathy as a key lawyering skills

From the blog Lawyerist:

In a negotiation, the most important personal attributes you can bring to the table are not the razor-sharp mind and tongue you developed in law school. Instead, empathy combined with self-control will get you the best result in a negotiation, with the added benefit of making you feel better about yourself and your job.
Most lawyers must negotiate at least occasionally, and many believe they know how to do it because they went to law school. Wrong! In fact, the adversarial process that American law embraces tends to make lawyers lousy negotiators. This is largely because our legal culture seems obsessed with seeing the lawyer as a warrior, lacking empathy for the other side. Negotiation is in no way analogous to war—it’s a search for a mutually beneficial result. Even when one decides to “lawyer up and fight,” the case almost always ends with a negotiated settlement.

To be a successful negotiator, lawyers must learn how to become "peaceful warriors." That involves responding to your opponent's aggressive opening gambit not in kind - which moves you away from settlement (which presumably is the goal of both parties) - but instead with empathy and understanding that sends a subtle message, without showing weakness, that compromise is possible. You can read more here.


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