KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

left & right brain paintingAny problem presented by a client may be amenable to a variety of types of solutions of differing degrees of efficacy; a lawyer cannot competently represent or advise the client or other entity unless he or she has the breadth of knowledge and skills necessary to perceive, evaluate, and begin pursue each of the options. Indeed, the lawyer is not even in a position to diagnose the client’s problem adequately, unless the lawyer has the range of knowledge and skill necessary to look beyond the client’s definition of the problem and identify aspects of the problem and related problems which the client has not perceived.” 

~American Bar Association’s McCrate Report on Legal Education and Professional Development

The Centre for Integrative Law was created to develop lawyers’ multi-dimensional skills. We know you’re smart. But you don’t know what you don’t know.

Here’s some information that might help:

Dan Defoe’s blog Psycholawlogy.com provides an easy-to-read overview of Non-traditional Disciplines for Lawyer Effectiveness, Training ad Development, based on the work of Professor Susan DaicoffHere is a list of 12 disciplines that can provide training in the abilities associated with the right hand side of the brain.

  1. Professionalism and Ethics
  2. Lawyer Well Being
  3. Leadership Education
  4. Corporate Management Models
  5. Emotional Intelligence
  6. Psychology and social Sciences
  7. Procedural Justice
  8. Integrative Law/ Comprehensive Law vectors
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Dispute Resolution
  11. Contemplative Practices
  12. Continued “clinical” education and training

To take just one of these areas: Procedural Justice: this is unlikely to be something covered in any of your firm’s training programs for associates. Yet how your clients perceive justice will play a major role in whether they recommend your firm’s services to others and whether they retain your services. In short it will affect the bottom line.  Most of this has to do with perception – not with facts. Defoe summarises an understanding of Procedural Justice:

“Three factors of a concept which relates to clients or other participants in the legal process and their satisfaction and with the process and perceptions of fairness:  voice, or opportunity to tell story; participation, chance to have input in the final decision; and perceived trustworthiness of the players, which is a function of receiving respect and experiencing dignity.”

Do you ask your clients for feedback after cases? Are you asking them whether they feel they were given an opportunity to tell their story? Have you ever considered the effect this may be having on repeat business?

If you’re running an in-house legal department you need to be well-versed in the skillset needed by in-house lawyers and know how this differs significantly to that of external lawyers. “In house lawyers, out of necessity, need a split personality. At time you have to think andact like a traditional lawyer. At other times, you must assume the perspective of a corporate executive. Most often you have to be both…for the in-house lawyer, the need for self-awareness and the ability to manage responses are more challenging.” To understand more about this you can refer to the “Perfect Legal Personality” Report in the ACC Docket (Association of Corporate Counsel)

Something else you may be struggling with:

“Most law firms do not have an effective performance counseling system. High performers are rewarded with financial compensation. Poor performers are noted during performance reviews and given feedback about what they need to do better. Then we congratulate ourselves on having dealt with the issue.

Except that we haven’t.” You can read the whole article here.

The Centre for Integrative Law has been building relationships with local and international experts in all these areas, many of who are at the cutting edge of their field.  You might be a forward thinker who sees the advantages that being trained in mediation may bring the lawyers in your firm or legal department but you can’t afford for them to take 5 days off to attend a mediation course. The CIL can custom design a training that includes 1 day of mediation skills (taught by an accredited expert mediator) along with, for example, Scenario Planning Training and a conflict management tool for in-office conflict. If you realize that meetings in your office are ineffective and using a lot of precious billable hours, we can design an intervention using tools such as The Thinking Environment and the 6 Thinking Hats to make your meetings short and highly effective.

If you are thinking about in taking the skills of your firm or your legal department to a whole new level, please contact us for a custom designed program.  Our network includes, professors who run leadership programs at major law schools in the US, experts in anxiety in the workplace, lawyers who are also psychologists and experts in creative problem solving.

We’re currently working on a program for young associates based on the American Bar Association’s McCrate Report on Legal Education and Professional Development

It’s a 400 page report you can read and try get your professional training department to figure out how to train lawyers in the skills they didn’t get at law school or on the job, or you can contact the CIL which, using a network of global experts on this subject, will take on the task for you!

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