10 Psychological Tricks to Becoming a Happy Lawyer

Posted on 01-10-2017 by
Tags: well-being , control , emotion , helping clients , healing , happy lawyer , psychology tricks

Dissatisfied lawyers, consider this: psychology is the study of the mind and behavior of people; lawyers deal with people.  See the connection? – If you haven’t thought about this already, you should start! 

Psychology is purely beneficial and cultivates understanding, which for lawyers means that it can:

  1. vastly improve the relationships between you and your clients, and
  2. help manage your level of personal well-being. 

To sum it up, here’s what you can do to improve your overall happiness.

Caring About Your Clients

Something as simple as forming positive connections with people can actually be difficult, especially if you’re not a seasoned lawyer.  Luckily, psychology offers great tips in the area of interpersonal communication.  Some pointers, according to a paper in Bepress Legal Repository:

  • Listening – Let your client tell his story without interruption.  Ask questions afterwards, and then offer your thoughts.  Don’t make indications that you’re bored or impatient (e.g. pen tapping).  The client will pick up on your dissatisfaction and won’t communicate with you as thoroughly.  In other words, “…use [your] face, words, and body to show that [you] are listening carefully, for example, by leaning forward and using supporting phrases (e.g., ‘uh huh’).”  The better you listen, the more the client reciprocates.
  • Relating – Find something – anything – that you can relate to with your client.  Why?  People enjoy being around others who are similar to them.  It makes them feel connected and more relaxed around you which opens them to discussion.
  • Trusting – Besides communicating the truth, trust is won by acting consistently (predictably), being competent, and acting morally (integrity).  Clients who are allowed to participate in their cases are likely to trust you because they’re offered transparency.
  • Supporting – You’re helping your client through a tough time, so let him know that you’ve got his back.  Giving advice is essential to making him feel like you care about his situation – especially if you’ve dealt with similar cases.  So, you can prepare him for what will come.  If the situation looks bad, let him know what the best alternatives are.
  • Building Rapport – All the above help you build rapport with your client… even verbal and non-verbal gestures (smiling goes a long way).  Generally speaking, rapport means treating your client nicely and with common courtesy – which is a mutuality.  Creating rapport with him will likely create rapport with you – therefore increasing cooperation.

Don’t ever forget about your client’s emotions.  Showing empathy makes your efforts real… genuine.  If you’re real with your client, they’ll be real with you.  As the Bepress Legal Repository points out, “If [you] attempt to completely avoid emotion, [you] will be unable to understand [your] clients’ non-legal concerns, unable to build a solid rapport with [your] client, unable to encourage [your] client to provide all information pertinent to the legal issue, and unable to connect well to [your] client as a counselor.”

Your Well-Being

There’s no difference if you’re high or low on the totem pole, everyone wants to live a life they can be happy with.  Psychology has written extensively on this topic, as lawyers are prone to many negative influences.  Here are a few examples of what lawyers can do to improve their well-being in an article by attorney Hallie N. Love:

  • Be an “Optimalist” – Realize, when appropriate, that being “good enough” is the best option, given a lawyer’s day-to-day demands.  Also, look at success and failure as opportunities for growth.
  • Appreciating – Try to find three small or mundane things that you routinely encounter – the taste and smell of morning coffee, your go-to restaurant, showers, your laptop or phone – and reflect on why you truly appreciate or enjoy each one.  “Research has proven that regularly experiencing moments of genuine appreciation changes our brains and helps us overcome our negativity bias.”
  • De-Stressing – You’d think yoga has no place in a lawyer's life, but think again.  There are many articles explaining how lawyers use yoga to improve their lives.  Even attaining better sleep is possible with yoga (specifically yoga nidra) as Love points out. 
  • Maintaining a “Self-Boundary” – The negativity you experience at work creates wear and tear on yourself.  By maintaining a self-boundary, you can create emotional insulation from toxic work environments.  As an article in Above The Law simply states: “There is work, and there is you, and there is a firm boundary between the two.”
  • Helping Yourself (in general) – A Psychology Today article lists many different actions lawyers can take to improve their well-being.  Finding healthy outlets for stress, recognizing that mistakes are part of life, and learning to prioritize your life are just a few of the tips included in the 10-item list.

The key to improving your well-being is to accept the inevitable but realize that there are more aspects to your life that you can control.  It will be a challenge at first to stop stressing over what you can’t control, but once you let it go and focus on the good in your life, your quality of life will substantially improve.  In her article, Love states that, “when we appreciate the good in our lives, we enjoy higher levels of well-being and positive emotions, feel happier and more determined, and are more energetic and optimistic.  


Posted on : 15 Jan 2017 3:52 PM

Never thought about profession in this way. Good tactic and psychology can definitely help in understanding clients and empathize with their concerns. Good post.  

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