I continue to focus on an excerpt from Dr. Robert Jeffery Sternberg’s book, In Search of the Human Mind, written in 1994. In it, Dr. Sternberg lists what he believes to be the twenty reasons why intelligent people fail. Now, regardless of public perception or personal anecdote, lawyers are intelligent people. Certainly some are more intelligent than others, but as a whole, they are intelligent people. Lawyers have: graduated from college, completed a graduate degree, and passed the bar exam. One might say this only makes them educated and not intelligent (a distinction not without merit), however for my purposes I am going to say that lawyers, in general, are intelligent. Part I (#20-16) can be found here.
Here are numbers 15 to 11 of Why Lawyers Fail (my comments in bold):
15. “Distractibility and lack of concentration. Even some very intelligent people have very short attention spans.”
Lawyers can definitely be scattershot and unable to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. The always on email/Twitter/telephone environment we find ourselves in isn’t helping.
14. “Wallowing in personal difficulties. Some people let their personal difficulties interfere grossly with their work. During the course of life, one can expect some real joys and some real sorrows. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult.”
I’d say lawyers tend not to have this problem as they are usually fairly emotionally detached from their personal lives at work. Where this tends to become an issue for lawyers is when their work becomes their personal lives; which is an easy thing to do for lawyers.
13. “Excessive dependency. Some people expect others to do for them what they ought to be doing themselves.”
Partners dump responsibilities onto senior associates, senior associates dump onto junior associates, junior associates dump onto paralegals. Every single one of the above listed probably dump domestic responsibilities on their partners.
12. “Excessive self-pity. Some people spend more time feeling sorry for themselves than expending the effort necessary to overcome the problem.”
Oh woe is the life of a lawyer.
11. “Misattribution of blame. Some people always blame themselves for even the slightest mishap. Some always blame others.”
I’ve met a number of lawyers who seem to have a propensity for self-flagellation over minor matters. However, lawyers can equally (if not more) lash out at others who they perceive as having contributed to their failure.
#10-6 will be here Tuesday.
Welcome Blawg Review Readers!
If you’re landing here after reading Blawg Review #272 over at the Lawyerist.com, welcome! Consider subscribing using the menu on the right. Part III & IV of the “Why Lawyers Fail” series will appear on Tuesday (up now) and Thursday(7/15/10) of this week respectively. Thanks for visiting!