Psychology for Lawyers

A Quick Guide to the Layout of the Assignments on the Course Website

I have tried to provide a consistent format for the assignments. The assignments often begin with a Preface. The preface (when included) presents succinct statements about the fundamental nature of the day's assignment. When links are provided to the sources of these preface statements, as they are in the 1st assignment that follows, the linked source of the quote is not required reading).

The Preface is followed (for most assignments) with Readings. The Readings are assigned to accompany the work we do in class. If the Assigned Reading includes an indication that it is available online--[online text]--you will be responsible for obtaining the reading by accessing it on line, or, better, printing the reading. If there is no [online text] link provided, then the reading will previously have been provided to you.

The Preface and Readings will be followed by Class Video(s). The general plan is to show these videos in class. (For the first several assignments, the in-class videos are drawn from a TV series, "In Treatment" and are not available online.) I do not require you to view the Class Video(s) before class, although I have no objection to your doing so. Many of the videos, after we get past the first few assignments, are relatively short and there is no significant investment of time required to watch a particular video more than once. You may find it more helpful to designate some of the videos that we view in class for a later 2nd viewing; some of the videos present ideas about psychology that can profitably be viewed more than once.

Class Videos, on the assignments page will be following by Reference resources, including supplemental videos, web resources, and scholarly articles and essays. These Reference resources are not required viewing or reading. You will find, I assume that far more resources have been compiled on the Assignments pages than you have time, energy, or need to pursue.

Note: Following each class, the assignment will be available on an Assignments Archive page of the course website.

ASSIGNMENT (First Class):
The Lawyer as Counselor


"Practicing law means working with people. To be effective in working with clients, witnesses, judges, mediators, arbitrators, experts, jurors, and other lawyers, attorneys must have a good understanding of how people think and make decisions, and must possess good people skills."

—Jean R. Sternlight & Jennifer Robbenholt, Good Lawyers Should Be Good Psychologists: Insights for Interviewing and Counseling Clients, 23 Ohio St. J. Dispute Resolution 437 (2008) (The Sternlight and Robbenholt article, unlike the materials provided to you in this course, focuses on empirical research from social and cognitive psychology.)

"[I]t would behoove lawyers to understand basic psychological concepts, not so that we may become therapists but so that we might be better legal counselors. We serve our clients best if we have emotional intelligence, if we are able to understand their fears, hopes and dreams. In fact, whether we undertake the task consciously or otherwise, when we counsel our clients we are dealing with their psyches."

—Marjorie A. Silver, Love, Hate, and Other Emotional Interference in the Lawyer/Client Relationship, 6 Clinical L. Rev. 259, 275-276 (1999)

"Busy life simply cannot afford the time to listen too raptly to the faint voices hailing him from far beyond the boundaries of his own demanding world . . . But these are the very voices to which we must now set ourselves to listen."

—Alan McGlashan, Savage and Beautiful Country: The Secret Life of the Mind 107 (New York: Hillstone, 1967)


Thomas L. Shaffer & James R. Elkins, Legal Interviewing and Counseling 1-17 (St. Paul, Minnesota: Thomson West, 4th ed., 2005) [online text]

Thomas L. Shaffer, Lawyers, Counselors, and Counselors at Law, 61 A.B.A. J. 854 (1975) [online text]

Andrew S. Watson, The Lawyer as Counselor, 5 J. Fam. L. 7 (1965) [online text]

Class Video

Class Viewing

"Mia" (the lawyer) | In Treatment (HBO) | Season 2, Dk. 1, Episode 1 [24:50 mins.]


Reference Videos

What a Client Needs from a Lawyer
[7:45 mins.] [Daisy Floyd, Dean of the Mercer School of Law talks about
being a client and what she needed from her lawyer]

Understanding Other People
[9:58 mins.] [Joshua Rosenberg, professor of law, who has studied psychology, USF] Pt2 [7:36 mins.]

The Best Lawyer is an Excellent Counselor
[4:16 mins.] [a lawyer talks about the need to be a counselor]

A Note on Education and the Course Readings

Six Minutes on the True Purpose of University Education
[6:19 mins.] [Jordan Peterson speaking at Harvard University, 2017]

Read as If It Matters
[4:08 mins.] [Jordan Peterson]


Joshua D. Rosenberg, Interpersonal Dynamics: Helping Lawyers Learn the Skills, and the Importance, of Human Relationships in the Practice of Law, 58 U. Miami L. Rev. 1225 (2004) [online text]

Paul Brest, The Responsibility of Law Schools: Educating Lawyers as Counselors and Problem Solvers, 58 Law & Contemporary Prob. 5 (1995) [online text]

Jack W. Burtch, Jr., The Lawyer as Counselor, 58 Vir. Lawyer 26 (April, 2010) [online text]

Michael Sullivan, The Lawyer as Counselor, Business Litigation Newsletter, Int. Assoc. Defense Counsel 1 (January, 2009) [online text]

Articles in the Order of their Chronological Publication (and having some historical significance):

1955: Erwin N. Griswold , Law Schools and Human Relations , 1955 Wash. U. L. Q. 217 ( 1955) [online text]

1965: Andrew S. Watson, The Lawyer as Counselor, 5 J. Fam. L. 7 (1965) [online text]

1966: Harrop A. Freeman, The Role of Lawyers as Counselors, 7 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 203 (1966) [online text]

1970: Robert T. Grismer & Thomas Shaffer, Experience-Based Teaching Methods in Legal Counseling, 19 Clev. St. L. Rev. 448 (1970) [online text]

1975: Thomas Shaffer, Lawyers, Counselors, and Counselors at Law, 61 ABA J. 853 (1975) [online text]

1977: Mark K. Schoenfield & Barbara Pearlman Schoenfeld, Interviewing and Counseling Clients in a Legal Setting, 11 Akron L. Rev. 313 (1977) [online text]

James R. Elkins, A Counseling Model for Lawyering in Divorce Cases, 53 Notre Dame L. Rev. 229 (1977) [online text]

1978: Margaret C. Attridge, Book Review: Andrew S. Watson, The Lawyer in the Interviewing and Counseling Process, 53 Ind. L. J. 615 (1978) [online text]


Contact Professor Elkins