Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law
by DOUGLAS O. LINDER and NANCY LEVIT (Oxford University Press, 2013)

The Good Lawyer

About The Good Lawyer


The Good Lawyer is Courageous

The Good Lawyer is Empathetic

The Good Lawyer Has a Passion for Justice

The Good Lawyer Values Others in the Legal Community

The Good Lawyer Uses Both Intuition and Deliberative Thinking

The Good Lawyer Thinks realistically About the Future

The Good Lawyer Serves the True Interests of Clients

The Good Lawyer Has Ample Willpower

The Good Lawyer is Persuasive

Seeking Quality


Random Facts

The Happy Lawyer

Introductory Note

          We are about to embark on a quest for quality, as quixotic as that might seem to some of you (and pardon our occasional quirkiness).

          Becoming a good lawyer is not a simple matter of reading this book, though it’s a start. The best of lawyers draw on their training, capacities, experiences, and virtues. Most importantly, perhaps, they have the right attitudes. What’s the most important right attitude to have? —It’s caring enough about the quality of your work to want to make it better. Congratulations: we take your reading these words as a sign you may have the right stuff.

    Some of the chapters that follow will focus on capacities or skills that good lawyers tend to have. You will read, for example, about how the capacity to empathize can allow lawyers to better connect with clients and tell their stories, or how good lawyers persuade, or analyze problems and develop litigation strategies, or make realistic predictions about case outcomes. Other chapters focus on what are generally thought of as virtues that a good lawyer has, such as courage, honesty, humility, emotional balance, or a burning passion for justice. While, as you’ll see, genetics plays a role in determining our virtues and how they are manifested, there are ways in which you can turn your virtue “weak suits” into “strong suits,” and become a much better lawyer for the effort. The set of virtues, dispositions, behaviors, and skills chosen here for inclusion is eclectic and reflects, unavoidably, certain preferences and biases of your authors. That’s the nature of the project.

    There is no one path to becoming a good lawyer. Each lawyer must carve his or her own way up the mountain. We aim here to describe the terrain your chosen path must cover. It is our hope and our belief that by working towards becoming a better lawyer, by paying attention to the quality of your work, you also work on yourself and will gain personal satisfaction.

    Quality, when you seek it, tends—as Robert Pirsig says—“to fan out in waves.” It will affect your clients, your profession, and your community. It makes the world a better place.