Psychology for Lawyers

Getting Started
Guide to the Layout of the Assignments on the Course Website

Brief Introduction to Two Organizing Themes of the Course

1 :: Lawyers are counselors. The best source of knowledge about counseling lies in work of psychotherapists.

The Best Lawyer is an Excellent Counselor
[4:16 mins.] [a lawyer talks about the need to be a counselor] ["people are complicated"; "clients have unstated needs"]

What a Client Needs from a Lawyer
[7:45 mins.] [Daisy Floyd, former dean, Mercer School of Law, talks about
being a client and what she found she needed from her lawyer; on being a whole person] [end class presentation at 5:44 mins.]

2 :: A fundamental reason we study psychology is to learn how to better understand ourselves.

The Inner World
[2:38 mins.] [Jacob Needleman]

The Purpose of Life
[3:45 mins.] [Jordan Peterson]

ASSIGNMENT (1st Class):
The Lawyer as Counselor


"Practicing law means working with people. To be effective in working with clients, witnesses, judges, mediators, arbitrators, experts, jurors, and other lawyers, attorneys must have a good understanding of how people think and make decisions, and must possess good people skills."

--Jean R. Sternlight & Jennifer Robbenholt, Good Lawyers Should Be Good Psychologists: Insights for Interviewing and Counseling Clients, 23 Ohio St. J. Dispute Resolution 437 (2008) (Sternlight and Robbenholt, in contrast to the psychodynamic approach in this course, focuses on social psychology and cognitive psychology)

"[I]t would behoove lawyers to understand basic psychological concepts, not so that we may become therapists but so that we might be better legal counselors. We serve our clients best if we have emotional intelligence, if we are able to understand their fears, hopes and dreams. In fact, whether we undertake the task consciously or otherwise, when we counsel our clients we are dealing with their psyches."

--Marjorie A. Silver, Love, Hate, and Other Emotional Interference in the Lawyer/Client Relationship, 6 Clinical L. Rev. 259, 275-276 (1999)

"Busy life simply cannot afford the time to listen too raptly to the faint voices hailing him from far beyond the boundaries of his own demanding world . . . But these are the very voices to which we must now set ourselves to listen."

--Alan McGlashan, Savage and Beautiful Country: The Secret Life of the Mind 107 (New York: Hillstone, 1967)


Thomas L. Shaffer & James R. Elkins, Legal Interviewing and Counseling [excerpted pgs./revised] (St. Paul, Minnesota: Thomson West, 4th ed., 2005) [online text]

Jack W. Burch, Jr., The Lawyer as Counselor, 58 Virginia Lawyer 26 (April, 2010) [online text]

"The Lawyer as Advisor: 'Human' Factors that Complicate Your Role," in Robin Wellford Slocum, Legal Reasoning, Writing, & Other Lawyering Skills 65-77 (LexisNexis, 3rd ed., 2011) [online text]

Class Video

Class Viewing

"Mia" (the lawyer) | In Treatment (HBO) | Season 2, Dk. 1, Episode 1 [24:50 mins.]


Reference Videos

Understanding Other People
[9:58 mins.] [Joshua Rosenberg, USF professor of law who has studied psychology] [begin presentation at 2:44 mins.] [reference to T-groups] Pt2 [7:36 mins.]

A Note on Education and the Assigned Readings
in the Psychology for Lawyers course

Six Minutes on the True Purpose of University Education
[6:19 mins.] [Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto clinical psychology
speaking at Harvard University, 2017]

Read as If It Matters
[4:08 mins.] [Jordan Peterson]

Reference Notes

"Legal education strives to enhance certain abilities in the 'counseling' domain. Listen closely. View from multiple perspectives. Probe for more facts. Gather similar past scenarios and their outcomes. Anticipate consequences of various actions. Remain objective."

--Cathy Ritterbusch, The Power of One, Part Two: Lawyer as Counselor, Marquette University Law School, Faculy Blog, February 13, 2011

Reference (Articles) (Chronology of Publication)

1955: Erwin N. Griswold, Law Schools and Human Relations, 1955 Wash. U. L. Q. 217 (1955) [online text]

1965: Andrew S. Watson, The Lawyer as Counselor, 5 J. Fam. L. 7 (1965) [online text]

1966: Harrop A. Freeman, The Role of Lawyers as Counselors, 7 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 203 (1966) [online text]

1970: Robert T. Grismer & Thomas Shaffer, Experience-Based Teaching Methods in Legal Counseling, 19 Clev. St. L. Rev. 448 (1970) [online text]

1975: Thomas Shaffer, Lawyers, Counselors, and Counselors at Law, 61 ABA J. 853 (1975) [online text]

1977: Mark K. Schoenfield & Barbara Pearlman Schoenfeld, Interviewing and Counseling Clients in a Legal Setting, 11 Akron L. Rev. 313 (1977) [online text]

James R. Elkins, A Counseling Model for Lawyering in Divorce Cases, 53 Notre Dame L. Rev. 229 (1977) [online text]

1978: Margaret C. Attridge, Book Review: Andrew S. Watson, The Lawyer in the Interviewing and Counseling Process, 53 Ind. L. J. 615 (1978) [online text]

2004: Joshua D. Rosenberg, Interpersonal Dynamics: Helping Lawyers Learn the Skills, and the Importance, of Human Relationships in the Practice of Law, 58 U. Miami L. Rev. 1225 (2004) [online text]

2008: Jearn R. Sternlight & Jennifer Robbennol, Good Lawyers Should Be Good Psychologists: Insights for Interviewing and Counseling Clients, 23 Ohio St. J. Dispute Resolution (2008) [online text]


Paul Brest, The Responsibility of Law Schools: Educating Lawyers as Counselors and Problem Solvers, 58 Law & Contemporary Prob. 5 (1995) [online text]

Contact Professor Elkins