Being able to identify and interpret emotions is a vital skill for modern lawyers. Emotional intelligence benefits lawyers in negotiations and dispute settlements. Strong negotiators can actively listen and read between the lines to understand what the other party feels is important and why. Lawyers who have strong social skills can find solutions that satisfy all parties. Social awareness in dispute resolution allows lawyers to read behavior and the situation in a courtroom and ensures they present the most suitable arguments in any situation. A good lawyer can adapt to different social situations.
Empathy helps provide better client services.
Lawyers who can see the world from a client perspective can provide a better level of service and a stronger attorney-client relationship. Most clients who seek legal services do so for the first time, and they likely have no experience of legal processes. A lawyer needs to be able to answer any questions, concerns, or anxieties surrounding the legal process and outcome. An empathetic lawyer knows how to build the client experience through the client’s eyes. A good lawyer can anticipate concerns and provide a seamless client experience. The happier clients are with their experiences and legal outcomes, the more likely they will leave positive testimonials and make referrals.
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Empathy leads to better results in adverse situations.
A good lawyer is capable of showing empathy to adversaries. It’s necessary to see things from an adversary’s perspective to understand what it is they hope to achieve from a legal dispute. Displaying empathy with adversaries can help diffuse any negative intentions or ill will created by the dispute. A lawyer can better advise a client when they understand what the adversary wants. This leads the way to a speedier, more efficient resolution. When it’s clear what the adversary wants and values, it’s easier to resolve the dispute with fewer client concessions.
A great example of a lawyer who built an impressive career by being empathetic and emotionally intelligent is Malliha Wilson. She has extensive experience in international human rights violations; indigenous, constitutional, corporate, and labour law; and other complex litigation. The Tamil lawyer was the first visible minority to serve an 8-year term as the assistant deputy attorney general of the Government of Ontario. She was also the senior appellate litigation counsel for the Ontario Government, where she participated in more than 20 notable cases at the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Empathy helps lawyers be better marketers.
The ability to show empathy to prospective clients and referrals makes a lawyer a more effective marketer. When speaking with prospective clients, being able to understand what they are thinking and feeling about the legal issue helps a lawyer speak in a way that shows clients they are understood. Establishing this attorney-client connection from the beginning demonstrates the lawyer’s value. Empathetic lawyers tend to see more client referrals. The ability to see things from a client’s perspective allows an empathetic lawyer to provide comfort and reassurance.
The more empathetic and emotionally intelligent a lawyer is, the better the legal services they provide, and the more referrals they receive.