Lawyer whisperers, also known as attorney tamers, work with lawyers to understand the instincts and herd mentalities that make the practice of law sane and effective. Clients have often used attorney tamers to help them understand and communicate effectively with their own attorneys. More recently, lawyers are hiring their own lawyer whisperers because they don’t know what else to do to advance their careers, particularly after their social media strategies have tanked. If you are a struggling lawyer, a recent law school graduate, a burned out paralegal, or even a successful horse whisperer, consider a career as a lawyer whisperer. Here are some things to understand.
- Lawyers are social herd animals, evolved over time for social interaction and the ability to help others escape predators. The domesticated lawyer has a highly developed communication system practiced primarily through monologuing and by using complex body language. Lawyers use ear position, head position, speed of movement, threatening gestures, and showing of teeth and swinging of hips to communicate. They are quick to escalate a behavior if early warnings from opposing counsel are not heeded. Effective lawyer tamers learn to use similar body language to train and “tame” the lawyer.
- In lawyer whispering, the tamer uses body language along with other forms of gentle pressure with increasing escalation to get the lawyer to respond. Lawyers are quick to form a relationship of respect with tamers who treat them in this fashion — “firm but fair” is an apt motto of the lawyer whisperer.
- Most lawyer whisperers agree that the traditional method of teaching through humiliation and fear do not result in the type of relationship that benefits the lawyer. Unfortunately, many blawgers, civil litigators, and most law schools have not adopted this strategy.
- The whisperer must be knowledgeable of a lawyer’s natural instinct to bite as well as a lawyer’s unique phrasing. A whisperer uses this knowledge in their work with the lawyer. Knowledge of Latin and a pocketful of sugar cubes are often common tools of the successful lawyer whisperer.
- Like many other forms of taming, operant conditioning through pressure and release are core concepts of the whisperer. The basic technique is to apply an aversive pressure of some kind to the lawyer as a “cue” for an action and then release the pressure as soon as the lawyer responds, either by doing what was asked for, or by doing something that could be understood as a step towards the requested action, a “try.” Timing is everything, as the lawyer learns not from the pressure itself, but rather from the release of that pressure. Lawyer whisperers often accompany lawyers to mediation or trial as a “second chair” or “associate” and use such operative conditioning under the table to assure successful trial or case presentation.
- Most lawyer whisperers emphasize the use of groundwork to establish boundaries and set up communication with the lawyer. This can include leading exercises, long reining and liberty work. Regressive therapy to a “pre-law” state is sometimes used to bring the lawyer back to reality.
[box type=”note”]The concept and term “lawyer whispering” dates back to the early twenty-first century when Oscar “Lawyer-Whisperer” Hallsey made a name for himself in the United States by adapting natural horsemanship techniques to the legal profession. Hallsey tried to keep his lawyer whispering methods secret, but Wikipedia readers quickly determined that he had made virtually no changes to the “horse whisperer” methods and techniques that others had already developed in England and in the U.S.[/box]