Leadership

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Law Firm Partners

By Ronda Muir

Ronda Muir, a Senior Consultant with Robin Rolfe Resources, couples years of practicing law with advanced study in psychology and conflict resolution to offer evaluations of, and real-world solutions to, the dynamic issues that arise in legal organizations. This article was originally published in Law Practice Magazine, a publication of the ABA Law Practice Division.

“Law is human interaction in emotionally evocative climates. Any lawyer who can understand what emotions are present and why is at a tremendous advantage.”

— Peter Salovey, President of Yale College and original Yale researcher on emotional intelligence

Law firms usually have a number of criteria for choosing who to invite into the partnership, but a traditionally sacrosanct factor is technical competence. In other words, the main concern is that partners be very good lawyers. So most firms try to hire the smartest law school graduates and then make the smartest of them partners, hoping thereby to secure the firm’s reputation and future. Corporate America, however, has realized for nearly two decades that there is another type of competence involved in producing the highest bottom-line performance in organizations and it is not intellectual or analytical expertise but relational skills—in essence, managing emotions.

Leading a meeting.

Leading a meeting.

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