Heidi Brown’s Books Promoting Flourishing and Effective Practitioners

The ABA has published three books by Brooklyn Law Professor and Director of Legal Writing Heidi K. Brown to help law students and lawyers improve their well-being and function optimally.

It just released The Flourishing Lawyer: A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Performance and Well-Being (2022).  She previously published The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered Advocacy (2017), and Untangling Fear in Lawyering: A Four-Step Journey Toward Powerful Advocacy (2019).

The Introverted Lawyer and Untangling Fear books focus on problems people experience and include advice for dealing with them.  The Flourishing Lawyer book focuses directly on self-improvement.  All three books include lots of exercises to help readers understand and develop themselves personally and professionally.

In her books, Prof. Brown provides detailed accounts of episodes in her own journey as an introverted law student, lawyer working in three different firms, and law professor.  Because of her own painful experiences, she has particular compassion for people grappling with introversion and fear of professional embarrassment.

A large proportion of the population – including law students and lawyers – have similar experiences, and reading her story can help them normalize their feelings and reactions.

Her insights and advice can benefit everyone, not just people who grapple with introversion and fear.  Law students, professors, and practitioners who generally feel extroverted and confident can benefit by understanding patterns of introverted and anxious classmates, students, professors, colleagues, and clients they will deal with.

This post is another in my What I’m Reading series.  It describes each of these books and highlights some common themes.  Although the books specifically focus on lawyers’ roles as advocates, there is a lot of overlap with the dispute resolution field, and her work can help people in the dispute resolution field as well.

Dealing with Introversion

Here’s the publisher’s description of The Introverted Lawyer.

While naturally loquacious law professors, law students, lawyers, and judges thrive in a world dominated by the Socratic question-and-answer method and rapid-fire oral discourse, quiet thinkers and writers can be sidelined.  The Introverted Lawyer illuminates the valuable gifts that introverted, shy, and socially anxious individuals bring to the legal profession – including active listening, deep thinking, empathy, impactful legal writing, creative problem-solving, and thoughtful communication.

The first half of this book:

(1) Explains the differences among introversion, shyness, and social anxiety and how each can manifest in the legal context.

(2) Explores the impact on quiet individuals of the push toward extroversion in law school and law practice.

(3) Highlights greatly valued proficiencies that quiet individuals offer the legal profession through nurturing instead of repressing innate strengths.

Further, to help quiet law students and lawyers become authentically powerful advocates, the second half of this book outlines a practical seven-step process to empower introverted, shy, and socially anxious individuals to amplify their voices without compromising their quiet assets.  With increased self-awareness and a holistic approach, and buoyed by collaboratively compassionate and motivating professors and law office mentors, introverted, shy, and socially anxious law students and lawyers will transform the legal profession.

[Update:  Here’s a related post, Introversion, the Legal Profession, and Dispute Resolution.]

Untangling Fear

Here’s the publisher’s description:

Untangling Fear in Lawyering: A Four-Step Journey Toward Powerful Advocacy is a practical resource for law students, lawyers, legal educators, and law practice mentors to eliminate unnecessary drivers of fear in our profession that impact learning, performance, and individual well-being.

For many law students and lawyers, studying and practicing law can be scary.  We rarely talk about fear in law school or legal training. …

Untangling Fear in Lawyering, discusses the reality, causes, manifestations, and consequences of fear in legal education and practice, from the standpoint of law students, junior attorneys, and clients.  It analyzes fear from a cognitive, physical, and emotional perspective.  The book draws guidance from how other industries address fear (and mistake-making) in education and training.

The book concludes with a four-step process for law students and lawyers to reframe fear into fortitude:  (1) identifying scenarios in our personal and professional lives that should induce fear but do not, and those that arguably should not, but do;  (2) reframing and rebooting our mental approach to fear in lawyering – using vulnerability, authenticity, and humility to tap into personal power;  (3) cultivating an athlete’s mindset toward the physicality of fear; and  (4) fostering a culture of fortitude in tackling individual legal challenges and in helping others within our profession untangle fears.

Helping Lawyers Flourish

Here’s the publisher’s description:

The Flourishing Lawyer offers an empathetic guide for members of the legal profession to cultivate their personal and professional well-being, identify and develop their individual strengths, and define success on their own terms.  Drawing from lessons and research from the fields of psychology, health care, sports, and medicine, this book is an affirming guide to becoming a better contributor to the profession while living a flourishing life.

The book begins with a description of the field of positive psychology and describes multiple dimensions of life including physical, emotional, artistic or creative, social, cultural, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, moral/ethical, and “caring” or caregiving dimensions.  It encourages people to consciously develop their character and find their “flow.”  It includes four appendixes to help readers implement the recommendations in the book.

Helping Law Students, Lawyers, and Other Dispute Resolution Professionals Help Themselves and Others

Prof. Brown emphasizes the importance of authenticity – people reflecting on who they are and want to be rather than pretending to be someone they aren’t.  For example, she suggests that readers might resolve, “Just because I resist fighting with opposing counsel for the sake of fighting does not mean I won’t write a strong advocacy piece and win.  Just because I endeavor to see the human side of my clients and adversaries does not make me weak.”

She encourages people grappling with challenges of introversion and fear to do some self-reflection, identifying their thoughts and feelings when they experience the challenges.  Then they should develop and implement plans to take actions counteracting their self-limiting reactions.

She counsels that people should normalize situations they fear, such as making mistakes, recognizing that everyone makes mistakes.  Indeed, making mistakes can provide the basis for learning and improvement.

She suggests that people should take advantage of their strengths.  For example, she recommends that people “[c]ontinue to envision yourself as an effective advocate because of your quietude, because of your ability to listen, think, problem-solve, and test the strengths and weaknesses of ideas before sharing your thoughts … .”

So she criticizes the well-intentioned advice to “just do it” or “fake it til you make it,” which she argues can be very counterproductive.  Instead, she encourages people to “just be it” – be themselves.

The Flourishing Lawyer book grows out of her studies in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a master’s degree.  The field of positive psychology involves development of empirically-based interventions to improve the well-being of individuals, groups, communities, and institutions.  She uses the positive psychology “PERMA” framework – Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement – to help law students and lawyers thrive.

In addition to providing suggestions for people dealing with their own challenges, she offers suggestions to others, such as legal educators and law practice mentors, to help law students and lawyers.   She provides detailed checklists with suggestions for doing so, throughout the books and in appendixes.  The Untangling Fear book includes appendixes for lawyers to help fearful clients and topics for discussion groups, workshops, and courses about dealing with fear.  The Flourishing Lawyer book includes a suggested “flourishing lawyering curriculum.”  The Introverted Lawyer and Untangling Fear books include bibliographies.

These books are full of good, practical ideas.  So you might pass this on to students or practitioners who are grappling with these issues.  The books are reasonably priced.  Law students can join the ABA for free and then get discounts on the books.

Take a look.

author

John Lande

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law and former director of its LLM Program in Dispute Resolution.  He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He began mediating professionally in 1982 in California.… MORE

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