find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
What lawyers can learn from psychopaths

What lawyers can learn from psychopaths

Adopting certain psychopathic traits could fast-track your legal career, a research psychiatrist has claimed.

Jayashri Kulkarni (pictured), director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre, said that antisocial traits may be a symptom of personality disorders like psychopathy, but they can also propel lawyers to the heights of success.

“Lawyers can learn from this group of personality traits, as long as they aren’t taken to the extreme,” she said.

Kulkarni singles out the antisocial traits of being driven, energetic and ambitious as contributing to the success of many lawyers.

The trait of lawlessness, on the other hand, is not common in the legal profession, said Kulkarni. However, some lawyers with an entrepreneurial bent may bend the rules to achieve a certain outcome.

“Meticulous lawyers are far from antisocial because they respect every bit of the law and one of the features of antisocial behaviour is disrespect for the law,” she explained. “But lawyers at the other end [of the scale] are entrepreneurial and could twist facts without hurting anyone to get things done.”

Well-adjusted lawyers have a repertoire of personality styles, including antisocial traits, that they apply to manage different situations, continued Kulkarni. But, when certain traits are dominant, like narcissism or a desire to succeed at all costs, it can lead to a professional’s downfall.

“You don’t want someone who has a personality disorder,” she added.

Kevin Dutton, an Oxford research psychologist and expert on the science of social influence, believes psychopathic traits can be a mark of greatness in the legal profession.

He explained that mental toughness, for example, can help lawyers win a courtroom battle.

In his book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, he identifies “seven deadly wins” of psychopaths – ruthlessness, charm, focus, mental toughness, fearlessness, mindfulness and action – which will also propel lawyers to the top jobs within their firms.

To further illustrate the tendency for psychopathy in the legal profession, Dutton points to Al Pacino’s character in the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate. Pacino plays the head of a top law firm and advises his protégé to “be the hick, the cripple, the nerd, the leper, the freak ... don't let them see you coming”.

Being chameleon-like and calculating is what links psychopaths with lawyers, according to Dutton.

“If there’s one thing psychopaths have in common, it’s the consummate ability to pass themselves off as normal everyday folk, while behind the facade — the brutal, brilliant disguise — beats the refrigerated heart of a ruthless, glacial predator.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

What lawyers can learn from psychopaths
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jackie Rhodes
06:04
Report sheds light on LGBTQI inclusion in law firms
A recent report has revealed the varying perceptions on LGBTQI diversity and inclusion in the Austra...
Women in business
06:00
Annabel Crabb headlines Women in Business Forum
Political journalist Annabel Crabb has appeared at the Coleman Greig Lawyers Women in Business Forum...
Dec 11 2017
Warm welcome for new district court judges
Three practitioners who were appointed as district court judges in WA have been congratulated by ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...