When Legal Practice Becomes “Ego” Practice

In traditional legal education we are taught how to identify issues, adopt positions, and create logical arguments to advance and defend these positions. In the process of creating these arguments and in preparing to verbally defend our adopted positions, we begin to internalize a notion that our position is “right” and the position of the other is “wrong.” To some extent, this polarization is necessary to inject needed passion into an oral argument.

After immersing ourselves in this process of polarization for three years in law school, most of us enter a profession calling on our acquired ability to identify and advocate adopted positions on behalf of clients for most of our waking hours.

Problems soon arise, however, when that dualistic orientation becomes a way of life extending beyond professional environments. In my experience as an attorney and in interactions with other attorneys for almost 25 years, this problem seems very common among attorneys.

What often happens as legal training takes root is that an attorney begins to lose touch with the truth that life tends not to reduce itself to ideas of “right” and “wrong.” Life pretty much just “is.” The extent to which we try and get life to adopt our ideas of right and wrong, in the same way that we might approach a judge, will largely dictate our degree of unhappiness in life.

It is a real challenge for an attorney to dis-identify from the conditioned way of seeing the world as “right” or “wrong,” and from the tendency to advocate and defend one’s mental positions. I speak from personal experience in reflecting back on the myriad situations in my life in which I have been confronted by another person or life situation that failed to square with my egoistic notion of how things “should” be, and how I reactively, with little consciousness, dug my heels in and embarked on a mission to prove how I was right and how the other was wrong. Most often, this exercise has done little more than cause the situation before me to further deteriorate.

The antidote for this tendency can be found in mindfulness training. Through this training, one can begin to again connect with the real nature of things as they are, and begin to break the grip of the polarized orientation instilled by legal training and practice. This mindfulness training is an integral component of my professional coaching services for attorneys. To learn more, visit http://www.holistic-lawyer.com or call Michael Lubofsky, Esq., at (415) 508-6263.