The Emotionally Intelligent Law Professor: A Lesson from the Breakfast Club

46 Pages Posted: 11 May 2016

Date Written: May 10, 2016


While some law review articles emphasize the importance of teaching Emotional Intelligence (EI) as part of the students' law school curriculum as a component of “professionalism,” fewer articles thus far have illuminated how professors can cultivate their own EI to become better educators. The present article aspires to provide law professors with a workable explanation of EI, and practical guidance to make EI accessible and useful in the classroom. Part I of this article explains the basic concept and components of Emotional Intelligence, and how understanding and cultivating one's own EI in a classroom dynamic can enhance teaching. This section also urges law professors to embrace a “growth mindset,” a term advanced by Dr. Carol Dweck, to describe our fundamental ability to change qualities about ourselves that we once might have thought were “fixed.” Part II describes some of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation of law students; in fact, we also need to start studying the characteristics of the post-Millennial “Generation Z.” Understanding the underlying societal drivers behind the current and next generation's classroom demeanor and approach to learning will help professors overcome kneejerk “Breakfast Club”-style behavioral stereotypes based on past assumptions which may no longer be valid. Part III draws from Dr. Ken Bain's study of exemplary college-level teachers, as well as the 2013 book, What the Best Law Teachers Do, to identify specific qualities for improving effectiveness as an El-savvy law teacher. Finally, Part IV suggests practical techniques for applying EI in the law school classroom so that professors can adjust more readily to a constantly evolving classroom dynamic and the needs of the inimitable mosaic of individual learners within each student group.

Keywords: Emotional Intelligence, classroom management

Suggested Citation

Brown, Heidi, The Emotionally Intelligent Law Professor: A Lesson from the Breakfast Club (May 10, 2016). University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review, Vol. 36, p. 273, Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 454, Available at SSRN:

Heidi Brown (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States

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