Paul L. Caron

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Untangling Fear In Lawyering

Untangling FearAlexander H. Schmidt, Beyond the Bravado: Some Lawyers Are Scared to Death (reviewing Heidi K. Brown (Brooklyn), Untangling Fear in Lawyering: A Four-Step Journey Toward Powerful Advocacy (2019)):

Great lawyering in the modern era frequently comes from a source far removed from the confident bravado of the lawyer stereotype portrayed in films and on TV. In her fourth book, The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered Advocacy (2017), Brooklyn Law School Prof. Heidi Brown revealed that, in a profession dominated by extroverted, self-assured and garrulous personalities, it is often quiet, withdrawn and even under-confident lawyers who shine at the heavy lifting of intellectual research, creative thinking and persuasive writing demanded at the highest levels of today’s competitive and challenging legal environment.

Introverted, shy and socially anxious law students and lawyers, we learned, are hidden gems that every law professor and law firm manager should seek and hone towards self-actualization to maximize their schools’ prestige and their firms’ profits. While dedicated to reassuring reticent lawyers that they are not alone and, given their inward-looking nature, that they can possess essential legal skills of insight, empathy and analytical attentiveness that more outgoing lawyers sometimes do not develop, her earlier book The Introverted Lawyer also served as a much-needed clarion inviting the legal profession to shake off its dusty bias favoring extroversion and embrace the talents and value introverts bring to the table.

Professor Brown’s most recent book, Untangling Fear In Lawyering, is likewise a must read for legal professionals. The book first reminds us that introverts not only belong but can thrive as lawyers—even high stakes litigators—advancing both the profession and the law itself. It then takes the next needed step by providing a wisdom-laden instruction manual that quiet and anxious students, lawyers and their mentors can use to unwind the misaligned thinking, loss of self-esteem and resulting despair that can accumulate in introverts once they are thrust into the arena and expected suddenly to excel at what for them are inherently discomforting tasks: public speaking, facing critical judges and handling hostile adversaries, difficult clients or abusive superiors. ...

Untangling Fear is brilliant on many levels. Reading it can be transformative. For Brown, the book was clearly a labor of love, with each structural element and phrase meticulously thought out. The writing is clear and concise yet packed rich with information and deep moral and philosophical truths, all while maintaining the impromptu ease and carefree flow of a master storyteller. The book has already succeeded abundantly to reduce stress among lawyers. Hopefully, it will also pivot in the regime change in legal training that Brown advocates will maximize the legal industry’s capacity to serve. We should listen to her.

Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink