Why are lawyers so hard to manage?


Being a managing partner, a general counsel, or other supervisor is a tough job. Building business relationships with other attorneys can be equally difficult. What is it about lawyers that makes us so frustrating?

Dr. Larry Richard's white paper for the Managing Partner Forum, "Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed" examines how the personality of lawyers differs from the public. 

Not surprisingly, lawyers score very high in skepticism. Skepticism is in fact critical to being a good attorney. But just how skeptical are we? We're in 90th percentile.

As Richard explains, that same skepticism that makes us great legal analysts, strategists, negotiators, and advocates can make us difficult to manage in the corporate or law firm setting because we can't all just turn it off.

Lawyers also unsurprisingly rank high in urgency, "characterized by impatience, a need to get things done, a sense of immediacy." Sound familiar?

And check out autonomy... we're nearly off the chart again!

Here again, urgency and autonomy can be critical to success as a lawyer. But maybe we need to learn how to moderate them.

Lawyers don't outscore the general public on all fronts. We're way, way below the general public in several areas. Like sociability.

Low sociability also has a purpose in law, which is a profession in which logical reasoning is critical. But obviously our low sociability has tremendous implications for how we work together and in cross-functional teams, as well as how we work with clients. Richard, now of LawyerBrain LLC, points out "rainmakers scored nearly three and a half times higher on Sociability than the service partners!" (emphasis in original).

We also take criticism worse than the general public. Apparently, we've got a lot of bravado covering up a big gooey center. 

I found all of this slightly depressing, but incredibly revealing. It was like seeing my own experiences laid out in chart form. How about you?