21 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2000
Date Written: September 2000
This article analyzes the by now accepted phenomenon of lawyer depression/pessimism and relates it to psychological literature and studies. The field of positive psychology, championed by Prof. Seligman, offers three causes for demoralization among lawyers: (1) pessimism; (2) low decision latitude and (3) a "zero-sum" mindset. As to the first two, the article posits ways to improve the lawyer's situation, but as to the third, since it involves a confrontation with the adversary model of justice, the application to lawyers is less clear. Thus, we set up the paradox that some degree of lawyer pessimism might be good for society, even if it is bad for the individual lawyer and we conclude by suggesting that non-zero dispute resolution may be of value.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Verkuil, Paul R. and Seligman, Martin and Kang, Terry, Countering Lawyer Unhappiness: Pessimism, Decision Latitude and the Zero-Sum Dilemma (September 2000). Cardozo Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=241942 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.241942