Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Unexpected (Right!) Truths about Male Judgment and Decision-Making

This one may take the cake for unnecessary research.

The Psychology Today Blog reported on December 18th that recent studies have suggested that beautiful women can provoke men to take risks, make more mistakes, gamble more freely and generally behave as men (i.e. impulsively).

DUH! And this was in doubt?

According to the blog:

“Males are biologically driven to impress attractive women, and they're also at the mercy of testosterone, the same hormone that prompts aggression and other forms of impulsivity. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that attractive women promote risky behavior among men because they activate short-sighted biological urges.”

I hope whoever paid for the research was rewarded with more and better data or at least a lot of articles and citations to this; the latter I’m sure they will get now that the Psychology Today blog is out.

Because this research certainly did not add anything new about men.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best Online Holiday Greeting Card

Here is a link to an online greeting card from the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP that is without a doubt the best ever.

Do you think this is how lawyers think? Maybe so, but at least the folks at Manatt Phelps have a GREAT sense of humor.

I cannot equal that, but I do wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday season and a PEACEFUL and joyous New Year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Makes a Successful Lawyer from the ADR Professor Blog

I’ve blogged before about the ADR Prof Blog and especially about the provocative suggestions posted there about the future of the legal profession.

Here is another interesting blog, this time about an article by Bill Henderson, Professor of Law and Harry T. Ice Faculty Fellow at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University at Bloomington Henderson has produced a paper based on empirical studies he has done entitled An Empirical Analysis of Lateral Lawyer Trends from 2000 to 2007: The Emerging Equilibrium for Corporate Law Firms in which he and others have researched what makes a successful lawyer.

Here is what Paul Kirgis has to say in his blog about Henderson’s research and conclusions:

His basic point is that the things law schools measure in making admissions decisions (LSAT and UGPA) and the things they teach their matriculated students (legal reasoning and doctrine) do not correlate with the attributes required for success as a practicing attorney. He contends that lawyers need to be intelligent, but also “personable, collaborative, entrepreneurial, service oriented, and interested in contributing to the collective welfare of the firm.” He offers data suggesting that high LSATs and UGPAs are not predictors of these talents and restates the familiar criticism that law schools do not teach them. He posits that a new hierarchy of law schools will emerge as a result of an inevitable transition away from the traditional model.

Kirgis is skeptical about the fact and pace of change in the profession, because “institutions do not always do what makes sense, especially when entrenched interests and structural impediments hinder change.” Henderson’s research does back up the themes in Julie Macfarlane’s book The New Lawyer: How Settlement is Transforming the Practice of Law about which I have already blogged.

While I respect Kirgis’ skepticism (how can one not, given our experience with institutions?), this research is one more straw in the wind about the forces changing the nature of the business of law and the education of lawyers.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Brains Behind the Deals: Insights from Neuroscience for Litigators, Deal Makers and Dispute Resolvers

For those interested in recent research on the light recent brain and neurological research has cast on how humans make decisions, the American Bar Association is sponsoring a Webinar that should be of considerable interest on December 14 from noon to 1:15 PM ET. Here is a link to the program.

Moderated by Joan Stearns Johnsen, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor, Albany Law School, Albany, NY, Professor Richard Birke of the Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon will discuss the fascinating connection between neuroscience and legal negotiation. According to the blurb from the ABA about the program:

Professor Birke will discuss recent advances in technology that have allowed scientists unprecedented access to the brain as it makes decisions, considers whether to accept or reject an offer, and how it reacts to new information. This ability to catch the brain “red-handed” while it does the kinds of things lawyers do in their practices offers the possibility of opening a whole new avenue of understanding about why we do what we do and how we might do it better.

I have written about Jonah Lehrer’s book How We Decide here, about the insights current brain research has on human decision-making and about recent developments in science regarding how a better understanding of human behavior can assist negotiators here.

Here is a link to purchase the book.

This program looks like it will be an interesting discussion of the insights in Lehrer’s book and other research about human decision-making.