Jaimie B. Field on Why Law Firms Should Not Fear Technology But Should Cultivate Soft Skills

Blending technology and soft skillsIf you are haunted by visions of robots powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking your place in client meetings, Jaimie B. Field urges you to take a deep breath and relax. As Esquire and in her 15 years of work with law firms, Field has witnessed many changes over the years. As she reminds us, change is inevitable. (In fact, the majority of firms expect the pace of change to only quicken.) So rather than fight change, Field encourages lawyers and their firms to embrace it.

Shift Your Perspective

In fact, she says, “Over the course of history, each step of change is greeted as both fear inducing by some and exciting to others. Did you know that fear and excitement are actually, physiologically, the same? It is just the way you interpret the information you are receiving at that moment.” In other words, it’s all about your perspective and resistance to change. Remember – as Fields underscores, it’s because of technology that it takes lawyers and others in the less time to find the information needed to help and serve clients.

Take a Hard Look at the Soft Skills

The fact that lawyers have been freed up is a good thing because they need to invest time to develop “soft skills,” collectively known as Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ). To make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to soft skills, Fields points to this Wikipedia definition:

“…a cluster of productive personality traits that characterize one’s relationships in a milieu. These skills can include social graces, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits.”

Researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer coined the term Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI), and Dan Goleman popularized it in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. At the core, EI (or EQ) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, and recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.

Up Your Emotional Intelligence

As Fields explains, these soft skills are what position lawyers to intently listen to clients, and consider and empathize with what keeps them up at night. It’s also what provides the foundation for communicating effectively with and better responding to clients. After all, at the end of the day, the field of law is a people business. By developing their soft skills, lawyers can better provide the counsel and support clients seek from them.

Fields concludes with this advice: “Learning to connect, to create relationships, to use the soft skills that we have put aside in an effort to maximize the efficiency of the hard skills that can, have and will be replaced by AI (like research, document review, brief and contract writing) will become paramount in a lawyer’s life. Learn to do it now.”

Law firms can free their staff even more by taking advantage of CRM automation. Learn how today in the Playbook: Sharpen Your Law Firm’s Competitive Edge.

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