LexInsight Blog

5 Ways Boosting Your EQ Will Skyrocket Your Legal Career

Mar 19, 2018 2:22:01 AM / by Jennifer Roberts

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Lawyers who studied hard, got good grades and passed the bar exam have all it takes to succeed, right? Not necessarily.

The world is an increasingly sophisticated place and the practice of law is transforming to keep up with it. How lawyers work is changing. Hierarchies are becoming blurred. Competition is fierce.

Most lawyers are smart and competent, but these traditional markers of talent are insufficient to navigate increasing complexity and uncertainty in the legal profession.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a key factor for success.


EQ is the ability to monitor and correctly label one’s emotions and those of others and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and behavior.

Psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayor coined the term “emotional intelligence.” EQ entered mainstream discourse in 1995, when Daniel Goleman published his bestseller Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. It is now understood to be at least as important as IQ for professional success.

EQ consists of four broad elements:

Self-awareness: recognizing one’s own emotions and how they affect thoughts and actions, knowing one’s strengths and blind spots

Self-management: impulse control, managing emotions in behaviors in healthy ways, adapting to change

Social awareness: reading people and situations and responding appropriately                                 

Relationship management: motivating others, fostering collaboration, managing conflict


EQ For Lawyers

Lawyers are trained to separate emotion from the law.

But lawyers work with real people with their own stresses, concerns and motivations. Detachment only works for hypotheticals.

As Salovey said, “Law is human interaction in emotionally evocative climates. Any lawyer who can understand what emotions are present and why is at a tremendous advantage.”

5 Ways High EQ Gives Lawyers An Edge

1. High EQ Lawyers Thrive

With high EQ, lawyers excel in the contentious, stressful practice of law. They are optimistic and have tools to manage stress. They let go of mistakes and grow from failure. They collaborate and communicate effectively with others whether they are in the same room or across the continent. They know their value and have the confidence to speak up for themselves.

2. High EQ Lawyers Forge Their Own Paths

High EQ helps lawyers navigate the changing world and workplace. They roll with the punches and are not afraid to try new things or develop new skills. Law firms and companies merge, practice areas wane, but emotionally intelligent lawyers are resilient and adapt to meet new needs and situations.

3. High EQ Lawyers Get Clients

High EQ helps lawyers get clients. They truly listen and express appropriate empathy and compassion. They understand that clients’ emotions may be influencing what clients tell them and pick up on cues about what is really going on. This allows them to discern and respond to clients’ spoken and unspoken concerns. Clients trust these lawyers and want to hire them because they feel heard and understood.

4. High EQ Lawyers Lead

With high EQ, the ability to lead positions lawyers for advancement. They have clear values, purpose and vision. They brush off setbacks and push forward. They foster collaboration and an environment in which others feel comfortable taking risks and voicing opinions. they motivate others and take an active interest in their perspectives and concerns. They can build consensus even in times of change.

5. High EQ Lawyers Get Results

High EQ helps lawyers get what clients want most – good results. They can read people and situations and ask the right questions to understand what is really at issue. Their ability to perceive the emotions, concerns and doubts of the judge, jury, opposing counsel and others, allows them to adjust their tone, emphasis and approach to best address them. High EQ lawyers may not win every time, but they gain the trust of the client and credibility with others that help build their reputations.



High EQ separates average lawyers from superstars. Lawyering skills and intelligence get lawyers into the game, but high EQ is the ace in the hole once there. 

Good News! Unlike IQ, which is static, EQ can be improved through awareness and practice.

Ready to take the first step? There are many EQ tests available online. Just taking the test leads to more self-awareness and unlocks information about one’s strengths and weaknesses within EQ’s four components.


Topics: For Contract Attorneys

Jennifer Roberts

Written by Jennifer Roberts

Jennifer Roberts is the Director of Marketing for LexInsight. When she's not spreading the word about LexInsight, you can find her running half marathons, dancing Argentine tango, or writing about wine.