Lawyer as Problem Solver

Lawyer as Problem Solver

What does it mean to "think like a lawyer" in the 21st Century?
Modern lawyers facilitate problem solving for clients in settings outside the courtroom or boardroom. Attorneys find themselves leading meetings, managing teams, and developing and exploring solutions beyond fitting facts into a legal framework.

To serve clients effectively, lawyers need skills in oral and written communication, interviewing, integrative negotiation, dispute resolution, ethics, creativity, coalition-building, decision-making, teamwork, and leadership.

Lawyer as Problem Solver (LPS), a program for first-year and LLM students, highlights these skills with an emphasis on group learning. Students step outside the classroom and into the role of attorney. The curriculum uses hands-on exercises to bring key principles to life.

The 2016 Lawyer as Problem Solver Program will take place on:

  • Thursday, January 28, 2016
    • 4:00-6:00 pm - Class
  • Thursday, February 4, 2016
    • 4:00-6:00 pm - Class
    • 6:00-7:00 pm - Reception

On these dates, students will elect to participate in two of the following LPS sessions:

  • Client Counseling and Interviewing This session introduces students to the skills involved in working with and communicating with clients. Students will learn how to gather relevant facts and important information during an interview with a client as well as how to use the information from the client and from legal and other research to counsel the client on both legal and practical issues.

  • Communication in the Legal Office This track introduces students to communication issues encountered in law practice and provides advice on how to succeed in those encounters. Students will engage in role playing and debriefing of interactions including taking an assignment, short persuasive verbal communication, and lengthier presentations, including the use of audio-visual aids, such as PowerPoint.

  • Negotiation and Conflict Management This session addresses the role of lawyer as negotiators in both deal-making and dispute situations and focuses on the creative, as well as the competitive aspects of negotiation. Students will assess their conflict style and learn how to manage high conflict situations.

  • Understanding Financial Data Attorneys serving business clients need to know more than just legal doctrine.  To be effective counselors, lawyers need to understand a client's business operations and be conversant in the language of financial statements.  This session is designed for students who are not familiar with - or who might even be intimidated by - financial data.  After learning basics about the key financial statements used by companies, students will engage in some lively interactive sleuthing to see how much can be learned from these apparently dry collections of data.

  • Public Speaking This session provides the basics for how to become successful at public speaking. Students will learn how to deal with "stage fright," as well as the other fears and challenges that come from with being in front of an audience. Students will learn about delivery skills, as well as how to make dry, informational material entertaining and interesting.

  • The Emotionally Intelligent Lawyer In today's competitive job market employers seek individuals who not only possess the threshold intellectual and technical capabilities but also a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence (EI). EI is the ability to accurately recognize and effectively manage emotions in ourselves and with others. EI separates typical from outstanding lawyers and is often what determines who soars to the top in any firm. Attend this didactic-experiential session to continue developing the "people skills" needed to navigate key inter- and intrapersonal dynamics at the core of all work. In particular, the session will focus on developing four of the most critical aspects of EI: self-awareness (maximizing strengths), self-management (leading yourself effectively), optimism, and empathy (accurately perceiving others emotions). To do this students will identify the top three EI competencies they feel relate to successful legal practice, learn skills to develop a more optimistic outlook so they improve their overall emotional state and therefore performance, identify key attitude and behavioral reaction patterns impacting their ability to maintain poise under pressure, and finally, learn the 6 habits of highly empathic people. The research is clear that leaders who are self-aware, manage themselves effectively, and can accurately read others emotions get the best results in both their professional and personal life.

  • Cultural Competence and the Law Lawyers increasingly practice in a diverse and global world. To navigate cultural differences effectively, lawyers must possess a high degree of cultural competence. During this workshop, participants will learn about cultural competence and identify strategies to become more culturally competent and to recognize when their own cultural background may be impeding or undermining their relationship with a client, colleague, or a jury. Interested students also can take a cultural competence assessment after the workshop.

  • Technology and the Law Discussions surrounding the use of technology in the practice of law are not new, but have been increasingly prevalent in recent years. Increasingly, new associates are expected to already have a baseline of current technology skills on day one. The rise in popularity among attorneys of the ABA Techshow, the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), social media, and the use of tablets and mobile devices in practice is testament to a changing tide in the legal profession interested in exploring the benefits associated with technology experimentation.  This session will cover tools and strategies for keeping your vital tech skills current. Students will be able to identify recent technology trends and requirements in the legal field, develop a plan for technology current awareness, and discuss ethical issues related to technology in practice.

  • Restorative Justice As we wrestle with issues concerning the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration, and systemic racial inequalities, there is growing discontent with the limitations of our systems and institutions.  But what can we do?  How can we heal from transgenerational trauma?  How do we deal with fear, violence, and victimization?  As communities search for answers, restorative justice is gaining recognition for its transformative potential.  Unlike traditional justice models, restorative justice recognizes our deep interconnectedness.  This requires a paradigm shift in how we relate to one another and understand our humanity.  Restorative justice focuses on the harm caused by an offense rather than punishment or the rule that has been broken.  It seeks to address the needs and obligations of those affected by the harm through collaborative and inclusive processes. Restorative practices are being used in the criminal justice system, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and other settings.  For example, restorative justice can be used as a diversion from arrest or suspension and expulsion.  Students will learn about the spectrum of practices, which includes peacemaking circles, victim-offender dialogues, and conferencing, and different points in time when they can be implemented.