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J Law Med. 2006 May;13(4):431-8.

The professional responsibility of lawyers: emotional competence, multiculturalism and ethics.

Author information

1
Touro College Law Center, Huntington, New York, USA. marjories@tourolaw.edu

Abstract

Traditional legal education and the Socratic method it utilises are by and large successful at training lawyers to think, reason and analyse. The cultivation of lawyers' intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, however, has been, at best, neglected by the profession. All lawyers, like all human beings, are emotional. Emotions affect who they are and how they practise law, whether or not they are conscious of them. As emotions cannot be removed from the practice of law, it is essential that lawyers learn to understand and manage their emotions, as well as learn to be attuned to their clients' emotional lives. Ignorance of concepts such as countertransference, denial and unconscious bias adversely impact the lawyer-client relationship. Lawyers who understand basic psychological principles and behaviours, who are aware of their own psychological makeup, understand their cultural perspective and recognise and credit their clients' differences, will enhance their effectiveness as counsellors. The client whose lawyer has these competencies will enjoy a therapeutically superior counselling or representational experience. The neglect of either the lawyer's or the client's emotional life threatens to sabotage the lawyer's ability, and thus professional responsibility, to render competent and impartial legal advice. Through drawing parallels to the training and practice in other counselling disciplines and relationships, this article argues that psychological-mindedness and multicultural competence are essential elements of ethically responsible legal representation.

PMID:
16756213
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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