Welcome. This is the first post in the What Makes Lawyers Tick? blog, and I want to give readers a cook’s tour of what we’ll cover.

As a lawyer-psychologist, I’ve spent my career guiding the leaders of law firms in how to manage the “people” side of their business. Along the way, I became fascinated with the question of what kinds of people are drawn to the legal profession.

I believe that an accurate understanding of lawyers’ unique personality traits makes it possible to design better leadership programs, manage change more effectively, select and retain better people who fit the firm’s culture, and improve communication.

In this blog, I will share with readers some of the findings from my research on lawyers’ personalities, and will also discuss other findings from the fields of psychology and related social sciences that will help law firm leaders to more effectively address people issues in their firms.

I’m interested in what science tells us about these topics and not in anecdote or supposition, so I’ll focus on authoritative research from a variety of fields that can guide us in this regard. I’m especially interested in the burgeoning field of “Positive Psychology”, the scientific exploration of what conditions and qualities allow people to thrive and perform at their best, and to achieve life satisfaction and well-being.

We’ll look at topics like the following:

  • What kinds of tools exist for assessing and predicting behavior;
  • How can we measure “soft” stuff like “culture”–and why is it really “hard”, i.e. tied to the “bottom-line”;
  • What is “leadership” and why is it more important than ever for lawyers to become skilled in it;
  • What are “360 degree” surveys, what are their pro’s and con’s, and how can they be best utilized in a law firm;
  • What can be done to get lawyers to work successfully in teams;
  • Can dysfunctional behavior be repaired or even prevented;
  • How can we build the level of Resilience among lawyers, and how can this help in loss prevention and risk management;
  • What is “Positive Psychology” and how can its principles help law firms to succeed;
  • What is “Emotional Intelligence”, and can it be taught to lawyers; if so, what are the possible payoffs for doing so;
  • How can leaders get buy-in from skeptical lawyers;
  • What makes for a good mentoring program;
  • What steps can a firm take to retain its best people;

I also plan to report to you relevant findings from the social sciences which can help increase understanding about why people behave the way they do, how to improve performance, how to motivate, how to influence, how to build consensus, etc., all in an effort to help law firm leaders to better adapt to the massive levels of change we are all facing.

Let the blogging begin.

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Photo of Dr. Larry Richard Dr. Larry Richard

Dr. Larry Richard is the founder and Principal Consultant at LawyerBrain LLC, a consultancy specializing in helping to improve lawyer performance using personality science. Dr. Richard is widely regarded as one of the leading experts on the psychology of lawyer behavior. A former trial lawyer, Dr. Richard earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Temple University. His dissertation research studied the Myers-Briggs personality preferences of over 3000 U.S. lawyers.

Dr. Richard advises the leadership of large and mid-size law firms on people issues–Leadership, Change Management, Professional Development, Motivation, and a range of other aspects of organizational behavior.

He is an expert in the areas of lawyer personality, change management, Positive Psychology, Lawyer Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, group dynamics, and related areas.