Professional Development

Emotional Intelligence for Lawyers

By Ronda Muir


Ronda Muir, Esq., founder and Principal of Law People Management, Inc., is a leading authority on the application of behavioral science to the legal workplace. She draws from law, psychology and conflict resolution to offer business-savvy, psychologically sophisticated evaluations of, and real-world solutions to, the personal dynamics issues that are unique to law firms and law departments. Reach her at

“(M)en decide far more problems by hate, or love, or lust, or rage, or sorrow, or joy, or hope, or fear, or illusion, or some other inward emotion, than by reality or authority or any legal standard, or judicial precedent, or statute.” —Cicero

Everyone is familiar with “IQ”—intelligence quotient. Most lawyers put their IQ scores up there with their SAT and LSAT scores as generally acknowledged evidence of their competence. But what is your emotional intelligence quotient? And why should you care?

In spite of lawyers’ confidence, some might even say arrogance, as to their intellectual competence, for the most part they have a demonstrated unwillingness or inability to tap into emotional data. In recent years, the field of neuroscience has produced astonishing evidence that is finally putting to rest the longstanding controversy over the role of emotions in the workplace: research has established that rational decision-making is impaired if the area of the brain relating to emotions is damaged or excised. It has now been scientifically demonstrated that the best analyses and decisions are made when we engage the emotions, as well as the intellect. For lawyers, the message is clearly that, in order to upgrade their performance, they should use the additional data available from their own and others’ emotions to enhance their cognitive skills.

Premium Content For:
  • Current ABA Member
Join - Now