What´s this Emotional Intelligence anyway and what does it have to do with lawyering?

von Marion Ehmann

One of my favourite quotes from Dan Pinks now famous and quite memorable TED-talk on motivation is ”I´m a lawyer – I don´t believe in feelings!”. What he expresses here is a common conviction that feelings have no place in legal matters whatsoever, which is why many lawyers instinctively recoil when the words ”law” or ”lawyer” and ”emotions” are used in the same sentence. It is certainly true that feelings should not take over matters in a courtroom or in the process of making laws. But what about emotions in the daily work of lawyers? What role, if any, do they play? Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a concept used in academic research since the 1970s and made popular by Daniel Goleman. He has a PhD in psychology from Harvard University, is a former university lecturer and science journalist for the New York Times as well as the author of more than ten books. Today he is the co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University. EI´s main point is that cognitive ability (IQ) alone does not predict success in work and life. Research shows that, beyond a certain level of IQ (which is necessary for career success), a higher IQ does not automatically mean more success as a lawyer. Rather, the different skills that together make up EI have more impact on being successful as a lawyer than IQ alone. There are several models of the skills that constitute EI and those skills can be measured by either self-reports or 360-degree-reviews or a mix of both ...

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