startup, start-up, people-593341.jpg

Lawyer Like a Human (Not a Robot)

I know we’ve come a long way in the field of artificial intelligence but to my knowledge, robots aren’t practicing law quite yet. Regardless, some members of our profession adopt robot-like behaviors. An unemotional persona where only facts and law are acknowledged. They send reactive emails without a thought to how the content may affect the receiver. They appear callous and dismissive to any argument or opinion that is not their own. It’s as if they walk into work and turn off their humanity in order to practice law.

By embracing that shared humanity, though, you become a better lawyer. On top of that, you’ll feel better practicing law. It is unnatural to take all the soft human skills out of the practice and by doing so, you increase stress levels and simply make your life harder. So, how can you lawyer like a human and not a robot? Remember these three things. 

Communicate! We work in an age where it is very easy to reply to an email within a minute of receipt. I challenge you to stop that practice. Rather than write an email to address a contentious matter in a case, pick up the phone. Call your colleague, client, or opposing counsel when they send something spicy. Email is an imperfect form of communication. We may or may not actually understand what the other person is trying to convey because so much is said through tone of voice. If you perceive a conflict, address it head on. By picking up the phone, you set expectations for what it is like to work with you and also ensure that you are on the same page (or at least the same chapter).

Be considerate. We all have lives outside of law. You generally have no idea what your colleagues (opposing lawyers are colleagues too!) are dealing with outside of work and sometimes, within it. They could have a micromanager for a boss. They could be going through a divorce. They could be dealing with the loss of a loved one. Don’t be the person that adds to their stress. I am certain you wouldn’t want that either. Remember that work is work and at the end of the day, the stuff that happens outside of it is always more important. By showing patience and kindness in your legal practice, you will feel better and will reap the benefit of more referrals.

Include gratitude in your practice. If another attorney has acted professionally towards you throughout a case, express gratitude towards him or her. Too often, the kind lawyers go unnoticed while the jerks take center stage. We need to flip that narrative. We need to recognize and appreciate the lawyers that were patient and professional. The lawyers that provided some mentorship without any obligation to do so. It encourages them to keep up that behavior and also motivates others to do the same. Gratitude can go a long way in making the practice more bearable for everyone. 

By remembering your shared humanity as a lawyer and embracing the soft skills, you can truly be a leader in the industry. You have the power to be a role model. Don’t waste it. 

Of course, if you’re interested in stepping up your leadership as a lawyer, let’s talk. We need people like you in this field and I’m happy to be your guide.