Can we teach empathy to law students?

Empathy is among the factors that Shultz and Zedeck found make effective lawyers. Now, we read that it is the no. 1 job skill for 2020. Can we instill empathy in our students? Teach them to be empathetic? How?

2 Responses

  1. I would like to make two points:

    1. Whether or not you can help students become more empathetic, at least law schools should teach them that it is the number 1 job skiil for 2020, as well as what “empathy” means in professional contexts and why “empathy” is important.

    2. There is a difference between real empathy and feigned empathy. I think it would be quite difficult to help our students develop real empathy, but it might be possible to help them learn how to feign empathy. My first reaction to this idea was that this sounds like teaching our students how to lie. But in terms of teaching students negotiation and counselling skills, it might be better than nothing. I represented prisoners for ten years, and I sometimes had to feign empathy when delivering bad news that my clients deserved and to improve the quality of our communications in general.

  2. Yes, most definitely. It is only a matter of how you manage the classroom and how you implement rules that will show your students that you empathize. It is also good to let them experience how empathy works and what it can bring to the people given empathy. At http://www.colthorpelawyers.com.au, we make it a point to show our empathy to our clients hence we dedicate our best to clear our client’s name from whatever he was charge with.

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