Lawyer, Know Thyself: A Review of Empirical Research on Attorney Attributes Bearing on Professionalism
American University Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 5, 1997
Posted: 20 Nov 1998
Date Written: June 1997
Professor Daicoff collects and reviews almost 40 years of previously unorganized empirical research on attorneys and law students. She argues that there is a set of empirically- demonstrated personality traits, attributes, characteristics, goals, motivations, attitudes, psychological needs, and decision making styles which are unique to lawyers and law students. For example, lawyers may differ from the general population in the rational, logical way in which they approach problems and make decisions, in what they value, and in what motivates them. While some of these traits are intensified in law school, at least some appear to be pre-existing prior to legal education, suggesting that individuals with the lawyer personality may self-select into the law. She explores the extent to which these attorney attributes are responsible for a tripartite crisis in the legal profession, in the areas of professionalism, low public opinion of attorneys, and lawyer distress and dissatisfaction. She concludes that the "crisis" has been caused in part by the "attorney personality;" however, at least some of the attorney attributes may be adaptive, desirable, or even necessary for the effective practice of law.
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