Teaching and Assessing Active Listening as a Foundational Skill for Lawyers as Leaders, Counselors, Negotiators, and Advocates

49 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2021 Last revised: 3 Sep 2021

See all articles by Lindsey P. Gustafson

Lindsey P. Gustafson

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - William H. Bowen School of Law

Aric Short

Texas A&M University School of Law

Neil W. Hamilton

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: April 19, 2021

Abstract

[enter Abstract Body]Our students will be more effective leaders, counselors, negotiators, and advocates as they deepen their ability to actively listen. As a professional and interpersonal skill linked closely with a lawyer’s success, our students’ ability to listen should demand our attention as legal educators. This attention is worth the effort because studies indicate active listening is not a static ability: we can teach students to be better listeners. But “active listening” is missing from most law schools’ learning outcomes or curricula, or it is only included as an undefined element of effective communication. Consequently, it is a critical lawyering skill that is routinely not being effectively, independently taught and assessed.

This article introduces the Active Listening Milestone Rubric for Law Students, which is a stage-development or milestone model in competency-based education. The rubric includes four subcompetencies, which are defined using expertise drawn from listening experts and studies then explained in the context of the practice of law: 1) Active listeners assess and accurately allocate resources necessary to the conversation; 2) active listeners work to create a shared understanding with the speaker by considering both the speaker’s and the listener’s lenses and how they may differ; 3) active listeners work to increase shared understanding with the verbal and nonverbal cues; and 4) active listeners move to a response only after fully exploring and understanding the speaker’s meaning.

Keywords: listening, active listening, leadership, interviewing and counseling

Suggested Citation

Gustafson, Lindsey P. and Short, Aric and Hamilton, Neil W., Teaching and Assessing Active Listening as a Foundational Skill for Lawyers as Leaders, Counselors, Negotiators, and Advocates (April 19, 2021). Santa Clara Law Review, Forthcoming, Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 21-19, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3830107

Lindsey P. Gustafson (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - William H. Bowen School of Law ( email )

1201 McMath Street
Little Rock, AR 72202
United States

Aric Short

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

Neil W. Hamilton

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

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