Seven Ways That Daily Reflection Can Improve Analytical Skills

Daily reflection plays a crucial role in building the analytical and decision making skills of lawyers. If you want to differentiate yourself from others in the legal profession you need to prove that you are better than average. So think about developing some capability that sets you apart from your colleagues. The main criticism often of the legal profession is that it is not about justice or fairness. So perhaps this is one principle you can grow through daily reflection that would increase your credibility.

Reflection is a deliberate process. It is aimed at equipping lawyers with a process to further develop their professional judgment.  Timothy Casey has written an insightful and valuable piece of research on the topic of reflection.

Daily reflection time will improve your analytical skills in the following way:

  1. Clients come to see you because they require your expertise. More often than not clients are stressed and anxious when they need a lawyer. This means that clients are usually not in a position to make sound decisions because they are emotional about the situation. This places the onus on the lawyer to have to do the thinking on behalf of their client. Daily reflection time will enable you to place yourself in the client’s shoes: to reflect on what is important to the client and how to address the client’s needs. How do you come across: friendly, connecting warmly with your client or cold, clinical and business-like? What do you need to do to gain the trust of your client?
  1. Experience comes from poor judgments and decisions we make. Daily reflection practices should increase your capacity to distinguish relevant information from irrelevant. It should also help you to weigh up the options and different courses of action. Very seldom is there a right or wrong answer in the legal profession. Most of the time it is a question of which lawyer has the best argument or is best prepared! So it is imperative to think about and reflect on all possible angles of the case. Carefully think through the option you support and that will be in your client’s best interest.
  1. In complex cases the need for daily reflection becomes even more critical. Why? You most likely lack all the information you would like. There may be too many variables involved which may affect the outcome of the case. It could be that you have little idea of what even to expect the outcome to be. Daily reflection will equip you to ponder at a much deeper level on what it is you need to set out to achieve. It will help you to read between the lines and identify false assumptions or deductions. It will help you learn from others’ experience. It will provide you with a conscious opportunity to work through all the knowledge and information at your disposal and identify any potential gaps in your case.
  1. Making time for daily reflection on challenging cases allows your intuition and gut-feel to come to the fore. As your subconscious mulls over issues, you will gain unexpected insights either into the information that may be incomplete or lacking, or the next step you need to take in preparing arguments.
  1. Even where there are previous cases that are similar, no two cases are the same, as you well know. Daily reflection time will equip you to think about how your case differs from similar cases. What other evidence or facts are there that makes your case slightly different? How do the external circumstances differ? How will this impact on your argument or decisions? What are the underlying principles in this case?
  1. As a lawyer you need to be very clear on what values, beliefs, agendas, etc. drive your judgments and decisions. What biases do you have? What personality traits do you have that impact on your effectiveness as a lawyer? E.g. What is your level of emotional intelligence? Are you more task driven than people orientated? Are you a big picture person or do you pay attention to detail? How do you feel about different race groups or genders? The reality is that your personal preferences and biases shape the way you perform as a lawyer. So one of the main aims of daily reflection is to increase your level of self-awareness.
  1. As much as you may think your work is only about solving a legal issue, you are in the field of dealing with people. So part of your daily reflection needs to be about your client: Can you relate to them and their case? Have you managed to engender trust with them? Have you actually connected with their case or is it just another problem on your desk? How do you need to adapt your style of interacting to gain their confidence?

The law is not about black and white answers – as much as that is what clients often seek. It is very clear that it is in the arguments that one will see very different outcomes.

In essence your legal and professional judgment includes knowledge about a specific area. It will also include the ability to apply moral principles and solve unstructured problems. Daily reflection will assist you to enhance your professional judgment. It will help you increase your awareness of factors that affect your performance. It will also help you to think critically about your decisions and performance.

The more time you make for daily reflection the more confident you feel about your judgments over time. The more confident you will feel, the less stressed you will be about your performance.

Lastly and by no means least, daily reflection will provide you with the opportunity to think about yourself, your own emotional well-being and level of fulfillment.


Posted in Decision making, Lawyers.