Friday, July 27, 2012

The "Lawyer as Psychoanalyst" Metaphor

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

200px-Sigmund_Freud_LIFEBill and I (pictured, left*) are both on the program for the Connecticut Law Review's upcoming 2012 symposium, Reform of the Legal Education System for the 21st Century (as is, among others, UNLV Boyd School of Law Interim Dean Nancy Rapoport, who had something to do with getting me invited).  This summer, I have had all sorts of fun, including dialogues with a bunch of doctors, consultants, psychologists, students, law professors, and even my wife, while writing this piece.

In a tribute to the late great Marvin Gaye's classic song, the piece, just up on Images SSRN, is entitled "What's Going On? - The Psychoanalysis Metaphor for Educating Lawyer-Counselors.  Here's the abstract.

In this essay prepared for the Connecticut Law Review’s 2012 symposium, Reform of the Legal Education System for the 21st Century, I propose an alternative to the dominant metaphor of “lawyer as warrior” for educating the many lawyers whom clients will seek out as counselors even at early stages in their careers. My preferred metaphor is “lawyer as psychoanalyst” because it invokes the need for lawyer-counselors to understand clients’ idioms and meanings, or more generally “what’s going on” beyond the mere analysis and application of the rules of positive law. Like lawyers, psychoanalysts learn a technical discipline (whether or not either that discipline constitutes a science) but need to apply it non-technically in the process of counseling patients. I consider implications of the metaphor for lawyer-counselors and their education, concluding with some preliminary and modest suggestions about how reflection on the “repressed positivistic” and “courting surprise” might benefit our students in the “what’s going on” aspect of client-centeredness.

Highly therapeutic.  Plus it contains highlights like the line "I never met a meta I didn't like," the story of my thinking the firm's "M&A" department was a Southern banking conglomerate, and a description of my recent emergence from the latency period (well, no, not the last and there are no Woody Allen references).

* Just in case there are any doubts, that was a joke.  It's not me.  It is Sigmund Freud, who has almost nothing to do with my essay other than he invented psychoanalysis and got Karl Popper really annoyed by suggesting it was science.  Sort of an analog to what C.C. Langdell did with law.

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