“Putting your best brain forward”: Consult with others
This is the one of seven strategies that you can follow to help you apply the emerging lessons of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology to the day-to-day work of your practice, as explained in the article Putting your best brain forward: How neuroscience awareness and evolutionary psychology can help lawyers avoid claims and offer better client service
As long as lawyers are mindful of client confidentiality, they can benefit from asking colleagues to weigh in on important decisions. Research has shown that group decisions are less prone to bias and other distortions than are individual decisions. From a practical perspective, checking in with others allows the lawyer to bring a broader range of experience to bear on the issue.
Consulting with others provides an excellent opportunity to practice countering confirmation bias: when asking colleagues for second opinions, lawyers can monitor themselves for the tendency to seek confirmation of early conclusions. Craig E. Jones, Q.C., a professor in the Faculty of Law at Thomson Rivers University notes that because we have a bias in favour of agreeing rather than disagreeing, and yet another bias in favour of the opinions of more senior colleagues, it’s useful, when consulting with others, to carefully consider who speaks first in these exchanges. Jones reports that some judicial panels maintain a practice of allowing the most junior justice on a panel to speak first, because of the natural tendency of the panel to agree with the chief justice (or most senior member).
Here is the list of all seven strategies to “put your best brain forward”:
- Think slowly, and let your clients do the same
- Lay a solid foundation for routine decisions
- Consult with others
- Check your biases
- Nourish your brain
- Reflect on your clients’ psychology
- Strive for self-awareness