Interpersonal Dynamics: Helping Lawyers Learn the Skills, and the Importance, of Human Relationships in the Practice of Law
Joshua D. Rosenberg
University of San Francisco School of Law
University of Miami Law Review, Vol. 58, p 1225, 2004
This article explains the relationship skills that attorneys need. Since attorneys often work in the midst of intense conflict and stress, they may need these skills more than other people do, but the skills themselves are not unique to attorneys. Basically, to function most effectively, people need to be able to listen to others, to be able to solicit, to receive and to give effective feedback, and to assert themselves directly. They need to know that people are not purely rational beings, but that our emotions, thoughts, behaviors and perceptions affect each other on an ongoing basis; they need to be self-aware, and they need to understand and be concerned about the way they affect others. Put simply, lawyers need "emotional intelligence."
There are thousands of "self-help" books intended to teach all of these basic skills. The problem, though, is that these skills cannot be learned by reading a book, any more than one can learn tennis or golf from reading a book. It takes practice. This article describes how these skills can be effectively taught. The course in "Interpersonal Dynamics" uses small groups (10-14 people) and primarily encourages and supports feedback and self-disclosure among the participants. By doing so in a relatively safe setting, the course teaches emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and appreciation of and respect for others. For many students it is not just educational but personally transformative.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39
Date posted: November 21, 2005