Lawyers are generally considered intelligent, perceptive, and astute. A lawyer is educated and knowledgeable. They may have above-average or high intelligence quotients (IQs).
Practicing law requires an attorney to be able to understand intricate legal theories. In addition, they must be able to analyze complex laws to determine how those laws impact a case. Therefore, a certain level of intelligence is required to practice law.
However, does an attorney need to have a high emotional IQ to have a successful law firm?
What is Emotional IQ?
Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is the capacity to identify and manage your emotions. It is also the ability to recognize and understand other people’s emotions. Therefore, someone with a high EI can also learn how to influence other people’s emotions.
Unlike IQ, there are no standardized tests for measuring a person’s EQ. However, that does not mean that EQ is not important or that having a high EQ is not beneficial for an attorney.
Six Attributes of Emotionally Intelligent Attorneys
Skills associated with a high level of emotional intelligence include:
- Heightened emotional awareness
- Ability to apply emotions to tasks such as problem-solving
- The ability to regulate and manage emotions
- Strong networking and social skills
- Helping other people manage their emotions
- Higher levels of motivation and productivity
The above list of skills might not appear to be beneficial for a law practice. However, having these skills can help an attorney in many aspects of practicing law. So let’s examine these skills and how they can help your law practice in detail.
Heightened Emotional Awareness
Someone with heightened emotional awareness can quickly identify their emotional states, including negative emotions. In addition, they understand why they are feeling certain emotions, which means they identify triggers for their emotions.
Because they are able to recognize their emotional state, they have realistic views of themselves, which leads to higher levels of self-confidence. Lawyers who are self-confident are better negotiators and trial litigators.
Confidence allows an attorney to gain the upper hand when dealing with other parties, including influencing jury members during a trial. Jury members are more likely to believe what a lawyer is saying when the lawyer appears confident and in control of their emotions.
Ability to Apply Emotions to Tasks Such as Problem Solving
People with high EQs understand how various emotions impact their daily routines and work. As a result, they are able to apply certain emotions to solving problems.
For example, a personal injury attorney who is frustrated could give in to the frustration and stop investigating an accident. However, a lawyer with a high EQ recognizes that the frustration can be channeled and used to motivate the lawyer to continue the investigation.
Another example may be sadness about losing a criminal court case. A criminal defense lawyer who experiences sadness could give into depression and hopelessness. These emotions could negatively impact future cases.
However, an attorney with a high EQ may recognize that sadness is a form of empathy for the client. In addition, the attorney recognizes that sometimes outcomes are not fair, but that means the lawyer needs to push forward and aggressively fight for each client to achieve the best possible outcome.
The Ability to Regulate and Manage Emotions
Allowing your emotions to take control increases impulsivity and mistakes. An attorney who allows emotions to cloud their judgment is not an effective advocate for their clients.
People with high EQs can regulate and manage their emotions. They can shift gears and change their mood. Instead of allowing their emotions to make decisions for them, they manage their emotions to remain focused and clear-headed.
Strong Social Skills
Attorneys need strong social skills when practicing law. Social skills are beneficial when dealing with clients, marketing their law practice, representing their firm on social media, negotiating settlements, and arguing cases in court.
Attorneys with high EQs are able to make connections and build relations. They have excellent verbal and nonverbal communication skills, which is essential for the practice of law. Lawyers who are emotionally aware are also active listeners and highly persuasive, which are qualities that you see in successful attorneys.
Helping Other People Manage Their Emotions
A lawyer with emotional awareness can help clients and other individuals manage their emotions. This skill is particularly valuable when a client is overly emotional. Emotions can cloud judgments, and lawyers need their clients to think clearly and rationally.
Also, attorneys can help clients recognize how “blowing up” in court or during negotiations can be destructive for their case. Recognizing other people’s emotional states and how those emotions could impact the case allows attorneys to modify the environment to assist clients who may be emotional.
Attorneys with high EQs can also empathize with their clients. Empathy can drive an attorney to work harder for their client to protect the client’s best interest. It can also lead attorneys to be supportive, which increases client satisfaction.
Client satisfaction turns into great attorney reviews that can lead to additional business for the law firm.
Higher Levels of Motivation & Productivity
When a person is emotionally intelligent, they have a passion for fulfilling their personal goals. However, they often focus on goals of high achievement and bettering themselves.
Lawyers with a high EQ set high goals for themselves. They are motivated to achieve positive results for their clients. In addition, they are committed to increasing their skills and knowledge to provide the best legal services possible.
How Does Having a High EQ Impact Your Law Practice?
Dealing with the intellectual aspects of the law is only one function of being an attorney. A lawyer also deals with the emotional impact that legal decisions have on clients and their families. Lawyers with high EQs are able to handle stress effectively, and they can relate to people better.
Your emotional intelligence allows you to make better decisions. It allows you to develop strategies that are in the best interest of your clients instead of merely focusing on “winning” a case. In some instances, clients may not realize what is best for them until you explain the consequences of various outcomes.
When you combine all of the benefits of emotional awareness, the result is a better attorney-client relationship. You also develop skills that help you excel as an attorney.
Do Lawyers With High Emotional Intelligence Make More Money?
There is some evidence to support this.
In fact, studies suggest that professionals and attorneys with high emotional intelligence:
- Outperform colleagues – both in terms of production and revenue
- Tend to get more bonuses and promotions
- Excel at getting new clients in the door and keeping them at the firm
At the end of the day, investing in your emotional intelligence could make you a better lawyer, help you grow your law firm, and put more money in your pocket.
How to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
Just as you can take steps to increase your knowledge about the law, there are things that you can do to help you become more emotionally aware.
- Pay close attention to your emotions, especially what triggered the emotion. By doing so, you can learn to recognize your emotions and the emotions of others.
- When you experience strong emotions, take a step back. Consider whether your feelings are appropriate.
- Learn ways to manage your emotions and feelings. Think about ways that you can modify your behavior.
- Focus on effective communication skills, such as active listening. It helps you recognize emotions and empathize with other people.
- When you receive criticism, focus on ways to improve instead of negative feelings about the feedback or the person giving the feedback.
- Practice positive thinking and ways to maintain a positive outlook
Developing a high emotional IQ may help you with your law practice. It can also improve your health and overall wellbeing.
Want more information about emotional intelligence, along with proven strategies to increase yours? Our team highly recommends the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, co-authored by Dr. Jean Greaves and Dr. Travis Bradberry. Check it out today.