September 06, 2017

New ABA book explores concept of emotional intelligence to improve lawyer performance, well-being

CHICAGO, Sept. 6, 2017 — Amid a growing concern about substance use and mental health disorders in the legal profession, a new book from the American Bar Association explores how improving an attorney’s emotional intelligence can assist lawyers to be smarter, more productive and physically and mentally healthier.

“Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence” delves deeply into the benefits for a lawyer to recognize, understand and regulate their own and others’ emotions. The book follows the concept known as EI or EQ that was advanced in the early 1990s, and puts emotional intelligence in the context of how law departments and firms can profit from higher levels of performance and lower costs of attrition, health care and professional liability.

Written by Ronda Muir, founder and principal of Law People Management in Greenwich, Conn., “Beyond Smart” provides steps and resources for lawyers and organizations to develop four critical components of emotional intelligence — recognizing one’s own and others’ emotions; being emotionally empathic; understanding how emotions evolve and affect behavior; and knowing the best strategies for managing emotions. Muir, a frequent speaker and publisher of, argues that the legal profession should take a page from the business world and the medical profession and recognize that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ in predicting and producing superior individual and organizational performance. Both fields have incorporated emotional intelligence into their education, hiring, training and management programs, she points out.

The book comes out at a critical time in the legal profession, as a coalition of groups, including the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, released in August a comprehensive report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change. The report, by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, includes several dozen recommendations and represents the most ambitious roadmap yet related to addressing the problem of substance use and mental health disorders of lawyers.

The “Beyond Smart” book was sponsored by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution.

Title:                              “Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence”
Publisher:                     ABA Publishing
Product Code:              5100033
ISBN:                           978-1-63425- 916-3
Size:                              6 x 9
Price:                             $129.95
Orders:                          800-285-2221 or

What others are saying about ‘Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence:’

“Emotional intelligence is one of the most important, yet overlooked, areas of law practice. ... Ronda Muir has written what is instantly the standard in the field. It is a gift for lawyers and legal educators alike.” —  Daniel S. Bowling, III, senior lecturing fellow, Duke University School of Law, recipient, 2016 Outstanding Professor

 “Every managing partner needs to read this book. ... The good news is that there are things that can be done to improve emotional intelligence.” — Sir Anthony Salz, British lawyer and former chair, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

“Muir provides the scientific background for what many of us have long suspected about what makes for a successful lawyer or judge, and couples this science with practical advice to address problems all lawyers face.” — Christopher L. Kaufman, senior M&A partner, Latham & Watkins, LLP

 “Muir gives us compelling examples of lawyers who have gained from high EI and those who have suffered from its absence. ... Attorneys appear to underrate EI as a critical skill. Muir challenges us to think more deeply about EI and how it can help us to become more accomplished lawyers and have more satisfying personal lives.” — David Katsky, founding partner, Litigation Department Leader, Katsky Korins

Editor’s note: Author interviews and review copies of this book are available by emailing Francine Bennett at . If you publish a review of this book, please send tear sheets or a copy for our files to Francine Bennett, American Bar Association, 1050 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Go to ABA Legal Fact Check for the ABA’s new feature that cites case and statutory law and other legal precedents to distinguish legal fact from fiction.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.