Understanding Lawyers: Perspective from the Jury


12231396322000101003Scale of justice 2.svg.medEarlier this month, I had the pleasure of serving jury duty. I’ve never been summoned to serve on a jury. The holding room for potential jurors is in a hot, windowless basement. The thought of sitting in what Tulsans affectionately call The Cellar Club wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time. I thought I’d pass the time catching up on work or finally finishing The Hunger Games. Instead, I found myself playing my new favorite game – Guess the Hogan Scales. People-watching is the best at the airport and courthouses apparently.

My name was called again to officially serve on a civil case after having answered several questions by the judge and lawyers. No, it wasn’t anything like Law & Order. The case itself wasn’t all that enthralling, and I’m still confused how the two parties couldn’t simply settle outside of court after 6 years. While listening to the arguments of both the prosecution and defense lawyers, I noticed that each exhibited similar styles. I couldn’t help but continue my Guess the Hogan Scales game as I watched them engage with witnesses and the judge.

Both lawyers seemed to become somewhat emotional during the trial. No tears were shed, but several sighs, eye rolling, objections, red faces, and a general look of frustration from both were ever present throughout the trial. During my guessing game I speculated these two lawyers likely scored in the lower range on Adjustment, Interpersonal Sensitivity, and Prudence. The lawyers’ emotionality, direct and challenging communication style, and attempts to bend the rules of the court made me a bit curious about how lawyers behave in general. After serving nearly a week of jury duty, I returned to the Hogan office ready to see what existing research I could find around Hogan and lawyers.

As it turns out, Hogan published results from the Hogan Assessment Project of Lawyer Personality in 2009 (Understanding Lawyers: Why We Do the Things We Do). According to the study of 2,000 lawyers that used Hogan’s three core inventories (HPI, HDS, and MVPI), I wasn’t too far off from my predictions. Although lawyers are responsible for different tasks and work in a variety of capacities, there are certain personality traits that are characteristic of lawyers in general.

The study shows the average results are significantly below the midpoint on the HPI Adjustment (44th percentile), which indicates lawyers on average tend to be emotionally expressive and moody, yet open to feedback and more self-aware of these behaviors. Additionally, the lowest average score is on HPI Interpersonal Sensitivity (40th percentile), “indicating that lawyers are task-oriented and tend to speak their minds but may also come across as cold, critical, and argumentative.” Moreover, lawyers exhibit more Excitable and Leisurely behaviors as measured by the HDS, which may explain the eye rolling, red faces, and limited respect for the judge’s rules I observed in the courtroom.

Although my recent and only experience yielded me a sample size of 2, the study I found in the archives seems to match my observations for the most part. It appears that I’m winning my Guess the Hogan scales game. I left jury duty feeling rewarded for my service and enlightened with different perspective of lawyers than I see on my favorite prime-time crime shows.