Lawyers as Healers of Employment Disputes, or Not?

Lawyer and dispute resolution specialist Diane Levin, whose Mediation Channel blog ( is on our blogroll, considers whether lawyers heal disputes or simply make things worse:

What happened to make people think the worst of lawyers, to believe that lawyers provoke not resolve conflict? And what are we going to do to change their minds?

This surely is an issue for employment lawyers, who must deal with some of the most difficult and seemingly intractable disputes imaginable.  Some are very good at resolving disputes for their clients in a legally effective and psychologically healthy manner; others are blockheads who lack the legal acumen and emotional intelligence to serve their clients well.

Those who are not familiar with legal education may be stunned to know that the vast majority of law schools do not require their graduates to be exposed to key skills and tasks such as client counseling and negotiation.  Furthermore, because law school admissions decisions are governed largely by collegiate grades and scores on the Law School Admissions Test, applicants who are book smart but people dumb can be admitted based on numbers alone.  So, to answer Diane’s question of “what are we going to do?,” it seems that law school is a good starting place to make necessary changes.

Another source of inspiration and ideas is Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ), which examines how lawyers, law, and legal process serve therapeutic or anti-therapeutic purposes.  I’ve blogged about TJ before and believe this emerging movement has tremendous promise for humanizing the law.  For past posts and links, see

For Diane Levin’s full post:

2 responses

  1. David, thank you kindly for linking to this post. I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion that law school is the place to begin to shape the thinking of the lawyers of the future. Your post reminded me of an effort underway to look beyond the LSAT to create an instrument better designed to test for the skills that lawyers in the 21st century need – listening, negotiation, relationship building, and problem solving skills among them. Your readers can learn more about this initiative at

    • Diane, thanks for mentioning and linking the initiative on alternatives to the LSAT. Between the LSAT and the obsessing over the U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools that heavily weigh test scores, access to the legal profession is unduly governed by a multiple choice test that bears only a slight relationship to the panoply of skills and values required to be a skilled and ethical lawyer. Both the legal profession and the public suffer as a result. David

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