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Lawyers Are Unhappy Because It's Our Nature to Cooperate, Not Litigate

Victoria Pynchon of Settle It Now offers an interesting theory on why lawyers are unhappy. Pynchon explains that recent MRI images of students' brains during a collaborative process shows that the act of cooperating with others "makes the brain light up with joy." So when lawyers operate in adversarial situations, as most litigators do, they're acting against against our natural, cooperative instinct. 

Pynchon asks:

What does this mean for hard working litigators? That a creative settlement providing the greatest benefit for the greatest number will not only be good for our clients, it will make all of us, attorney and client alike, lots lots happier. And happy clients are the clients we retain.And as for all that competitive energy? It's still a necessary component of getting your adversary to cooperate.

Pynchon's theory is interesting, but I'm not convinced that formerly adversarial attorneys feel much happier when they're working towards a settlement. Many times, settlement talks are contaminated by distrust and a lawyer's own second guessing (does he really mean that the $50,000 is his bottom line, or is he just saying that -- can I get more?) that create even more stress, which can also breed unhappiness. It seems to me that collaboration brings the kind of joy that Pynchon describes only in situations where lawyers haven't already muddied the relationship with adversarial conflict. 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 30, 2006 at 04:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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