Professor Robin Wellford Slocum from Chapman University School of Law posted an article on SSRN entitled An Inconvenient Truth: The Need to Educate Emotionally Competent Lawyers. The article is a very interesting read on the importance of teaching emotional competence as opposed to teaching emotional detachment. Particularly, the paper addresses the four “domains” of emotional competency (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) and how teaching students to develop each domain through skills training will create better prepared attorneys:
[W]e cannot expect our students to fully grasp the “bigger picture” or to appreciate the practical significance of their legal strategies if they share their future clients’ limited understanding of human behavior and their narrow worldviews. Absent some understanding of the complex nature of human behavior and how the emotional brain drives decision-making, students cannot fully appreciate how their clients, judges, juries or opposing counsel are likely to respond to their legal arguments or strategies.
Interestingly, the paper is not only about addressing the emotional needs of clients, but legal strategy and preparation for communication with the opposition as well. We do not realize in real time that our thought process is corrupted by emotions, but the article suggests that corruption awareness is trainable by pointing out “red-flags”. Such training would be useful, for example, in an exchange with opposing counsel where anger can cause the brain to activate pre-programmed responses rather than allowing for a rational argument on a point. Emotional competence seeks to prevent anger responses and promote rationality.
Read the article and tell us what you think!
Filed under: Teaching Methodology