I am a Swedish psychologist specialising in helping lawyers improve their performance and well-being. My work is based on the premise that there is a gap between how lawyers think they work, and how they actually work. This discrepancy between self-image and actual lawyering creates lots of problems – many of which lawyers pay a hefty price for that might not even be particularly aware of. A similar gap between the map (the image of being a lawyer) and the terrain is found in the mind of the public. This phenomenon is not exclusive to lawyers, but can also be found in other professions, such as doctors, psychologists etc. Cary Cherniss formulated the theory of the professional mystique to describe this phenomenon, and it exists in the mind of the public in the case of lawyers through the works of writers such as Grisham.
I think at the core of this issue lies a too limited conceptualization of how lawyers work. The general idea is that lawyers essentially are a kind of highly qualified and sophisticated consultants offering legal expertise. While it is true that the core competence and offering to the clients indeed constitute legal expertise, the quality and effectiveness of that legal service is depended on other critical competences. This expectancy gap, between what is expected and what actually is, creates unrealistic expectations on several levels and between different parties in the legal system. My aim has been identify and try to remedy these gaps, and what follows is a brief outline of the major themes that have emerged from this enterprise.
Excerpted from Lawyers as Changemakers