Intellect, bad behaviour and the professional brain

Historically, being smart in competitive endeavours went hand in hand with ruthlessness.  So, too, the law has sometimes countenanced anti-social traits and even coveted possessors of the killer instinct.  As law becomes a more socially relevant, more collaborative pursuit, the aggressive lawyer needs to change, to remain smart.  This sea change is, in part, behind the upheaval in law over civility.  After the storm, there is hope.

Read this month’s posting in the Accidental Mentor, for more about the future of bully-savants.

Historiquement, être intelligent dans la compétition associait avec la cruauté. Donc, aussi, les avocats ont parfois toléré des traits antisociaux et même l’instinct du tueur. Comme le droit devient plus en plus pertinent à la société, et plus une poursuite de groupe, l’avocat agressif a besoin de changer son jeu. Ce changement radical est, en partie, derrière le bouleversement de la barre au sujet de la civilité.  Après la tempête, il y a de l’espoir.

Dans l’article de juin 2012 dans Accidental Mentor, débrouillons l’énigme et l’avenir du savant-antisocial.

Terms of use / Mentions légales


  1. Hi, I’m an Australian lawyer, and yes, I agree – the one thing they don’t tell you when you enter the law is that you’ll be required to develop a finely honed “killer instinct”. While that may be fine for blood-thirsty clients and provide entertainment for courtroom watchers, it’ a difficult “quality” for the lawyer themselves to live with – especially a good (read “skilled”) lawyer. Dealing with that aspect of legal practice is the toughest part of being a practitioner in my experience – balancing out aggression with compassion is a very difficult thing – and all too often the “Dark Side” takes over and we see brilliant lawyers go under (drugs, alcohol, post-traumatic stress disroder, depression – you name it). It’s not something we can talk about too often (doesn’t exactly make for pleasant dinner party conversation) and as a result lawyers are left to struggle with this real ethical problem (it presents as a personal ethical problem) on their own. I decided to take a break from law and enter academia – teaching everything except law – and doing a PhD in the Arts faculty, but with a legal component. Because I love being a legal practitioner, I do keep up my practice doing pro-bono work one day a month for a community legal practice serving people with an intellectual disability, but this ethical problem has yet to be solved in my case, and I’m reluctant to go back to the law properly until I’ve found a way to deal with it. As you say, we are in transition (I’m heartened to hear that Canadian lawyers are thinking about the same thing), but we’re not there yet. Anyway, thanks for your article – it was comforting to know I’m not alone in this.

    Kind regards,


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