Escaping from Lawyers' Prison of Fear

29 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2014 Last revised: 31 Mar 2014

See all articles by John Lande

John Lande

University of Missouri School of Law

Date Written: March 31, 2014


Lawyers regularly experience numerous fears endemic to their work. This is not surprising considering that lawyers generally operate in environments that frequently stimulate many fears. Lawyers’ fears can lead them to enhance their performance due to increased preparation and effective “thinking on their feet.” Fear is problematic when it is out of proportion to actual threats, is expressed inappropriately, or is chronically unaddressed effectively. It can lead to sub-optimal and counterproductive performance through paralysis, ritualized behavior, or inappropriate aggression. Some lawyers’ fears unnecessarily prevent them from performing well, producing good results for clients, earning more income, and experiencing greater satisfaction in their work. Lawyers who manage their fears effectively are likely to do better than those who do not manage their fears as well. This article suggests ways that lawyers can take advantage of the benefits of their fears and reduce problems caused by them. It concludes with suggestions for lawyers, legal educators, and bar association officials to promote constructive methods of dealing with fears.

Keywords: fear, anxiety, failure, success, psychology, legal practice, negotiation, military, legal education, legal profession

Suggested Citation

Lande, John, Escaping from Lawyers' Prison of Fear (March 31, 2014). 82 UMKC L. Rev. 485 (2014), University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-08, Available at SSRN:

John Lande (Contact Author)

University of Missouri School of Law ( email )

Hulston Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

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