Thinking like a lawyer. That's what 40,000 men and women are ponying up mega bucks to do in schools of law right now, observes Elie Mystal on Abovethelaw.com.
Those of us who attended law school can see some value in that. For example, it develops the skill of critical thinking. Unless we matriculated at an elite prep school or university we probably never picked that up before in our education. In addition to that cognitive acquistion, there will be those who are fortunate enough to make a good living with their JD.
Along with that, though, there is the peril that thinking like a lawyer can handicap success in careers, daily transactions, and intimate relationships.
For example, the JDs unable to secure a position or even contract assignment in the legal sector decide on a career change. When they apply for opportunities in public relations, the compliance department of an insurance company, or a midlevel position in security in retail, they stay in the lawyer box: Analytical, poker-faced, wary. Of course, with the low Emotional Intelligence they are not going to be hired. Employers need reassurance that you will fit in and get things done through other people.
Then there are the JDs who argue with the landlord to fix the toilet in the rental as a lawyer would. The toilet gets fixed but the landlord finds a legal reason not to offer to renew the lease. That great deal on an apartment in the New York Metro area is gone.
And, in striving to establish a significant-other relationship, JDs can miss all the human signals. Instead they focus on what might be called transactional negotiations. Rather than just taking out the garbage for the next two weeks while their lovers are trying to save their jobs in media, they make a point of quantifying how much time that extra burden is consuming. They will be sleeping on the couch and then they will be out. For good.
Thinking like a lawyer has its place. It's useful to leverage when clients are foot-dragging on paying for bills. Otherwise, its role should be limited to the narrow field of practicing law.