Unfortunately, our legal industry numbs us to our human condition.
Recently, I had the powerful opportunity to experience first-hand the legal system as a 3rd-party witness in a litigated deposition, and having shifted from my litigation practice a couple years ago, it felt like an insensitive, toxic and hostile setting with desensitized litigators ripping at each other & myself — everyone found it normal and oddly, acceptable to simply toughen up, swallow emotions and focus on tactics over feelings.
I also had first-hand experience losing a close-family member to this very issue: litigation causing more distress, harm & destruction due to lack of sensitivity and basic human-decency, all in the name of “winning” or “making it big.”
Many of my colleagues, I am sad to say, have habituated to suppression or deflection of their base emotions and coping mechanisms to deal with the latent toxicity currently imbued in the profession.
It is standard to see incivility, harsh tactics and a disregard for qualitative / emotional components all in the name of optimizing revenue or winning a case,
Consequently, we see a “win at all costs” mentally.
I am asking the dire question: What are the costs that we as practitioners are bearing in the legal profession?
- WELL-BEING COSTS
A quaint buzz-word of burnout is used, and this transcends that inquiry.
I sense a root cause, as many of my other colleagues may agree, is our legal training
An over-emphasis on left-hemisphere dominant / analysis-focus without any or minimal qualitative/right-hemisphere/emotional awareness, leaving an unbalanced practitioner.
An unbalanced practitioner will eventually develop issues in their personal life that can range from dis-ease, relational conflicts and overall lack of fulfillment in their career.
Ultimately, this is the unspoken cost of being a litigator many hide or shy away from discussing, and leads to an unsustainable lifestyle.
- FINANCIAL COSTS
For my colleagues new to this wisdom, I too like financial success and abundance, and am not suggesting that we become esoteric or impractical.
Quite the contrary, we are well past the precipice, as our consumers are more savvy and demand a more personal-touch to their legal services.
Market demands have clearly shifted and it is not even a matter of self-care, I am speaking to commercial viability of many traditional litigation models & systems in the face of these blatant paradigm shifts.
I do not believe that our litigator colleagues can turn a blind-eye to this “legal desensitization” because clients will steer towards hiring emotionally-aware litigators and seek ADR measures that bypass the dysfunctional litigation system
Financial impacts will be seen by litigators that lack empathy, are toxic or habitually desensitized.
- CREATIVITY COSTS
Lastly, what if this Legal Desensitization leads to poor performance & limited creativity?
If we’re only operating in a habitual & analytical state, then every situation looks like a nail that requires hammering and we operate with a limited perspective, using only a portion of our skill-set.
Many litigators become habituated to desensitization, which is exacerbated by chronic stress over time, rendering them overtly aggressive & more likely to see the process myopically, missing out on creative & comprehensive solutions.
The legal industry is at a crossroads, as the old paradigm has been uprooted and if we grasp at the vestiges of the old system instead of embracing change & growth, we will be resisting based on outmoded beliefs & tactics.
The answer is staring us in the face, we adopt a revived role of the Law: to empower, not victimize. To serve and help as a guide & counselor, bringing both quantitative & qualitative skills to our cases — approaching our Craft with creativity, compassion, love & humility.
Here’s a shout-out to all the Legal Warriors with Heart out there — It is time to bring sensitivity, empathy & creativity back to our noble profession; will you join me?