Drive: Tapping Into Lawyers’ Intrinsic Motivation

Daniel H. Pink’s 2009 book entitled “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” (“Drive”) is filled with information that is highly relevant to the legal profession today.

The central thrust of Drive is that motivating professionals like lawyers requires law firms to go beyond the traditional use of sticks and carrots, punishments and rewards. Pink argues that instead of focusing on these external motivators, what law firms need to do is tap into the intrinsic motivational drive of their lawyers. This will result in more engaging and ultimately more satisfying work. Pink argues that this will not only reduce lawyer turnover and burnout, but that it is in fact the secret to high performance.

Pink highlights three key aspects of work that make it more inherently satisfying: (i) autonomy; (ii) mastery; and (iii) purpose. He argues that these components of intrinsic motivation are interdependent and mutually reinforcing – that, like the legs of a tripod, the apparatus of excellence cannot stand without each component in place.

If there is any merit to Pink’s argument, then law firms would be well advised to pay careful attention to each of the three components of intrinsic motivation in their human resource strategies. Here are some ideas on how to do so:

(i) Autonomy: There are five main ways firms can increase their lawyers’ overall sense of autonomy. These include giving lawyers greater leeway over: (i) what to work on (subject autonomy); (ii) when to do their work (time autonomy); (iii) where to do their work (place autonomy); (iv) who to do their work with (team autonomy); and (v) how to do their work (technique autonomy). The idea here is not that firms have to grant their lawyers full autonomy over all aspects of their work. It is simply that law firms have at their disposal five separate channels along which to promote greater lawyer autonomy, and that an increase in autonomy along any one of these five channels will result in a higher level of work satisfaction.

(ii) Mastery: Law firms can promote lawyer mastery by aligning the difficulty of certain tasks with their lawyers’ overall level of skill or development. Pink calls these “Goldilocks tasks” – tasks that are neither too hard nor too difficult. The idea is that in order to develop mastery it is important for lawyers to be engaged; and in order to be engaged they must be presented with challenges that are well suited to their skill level. Tasks that are too challenging result in a sense of being overwhelmed; tasks that are too easy result in boredom; tasks that are neither too hard nor too easy, but “just right” result in engagement. Engagement, in turn, leads to mastery. Law firms that care about developing masterful lawyers should ensure that they are neither overwhelmed nor bored – that overall they are engaged by their work. If firms are able to strike this balance, their lawyers’ work becomes its own reward.

(iii) Purpose: To make their lawyers’ work more satisfying, law firms would also do well to consider increasing the emphasis they place on meaningful, not just profitable, work – that is, work that gives their lawyers a sense that they are making a positive contribution to something greater than themselves. This does not mean rejecting profit as a motive; it simply means making greater room for non-profit driven contributions. This might mean crafting a mission or vision statement that espouses genuine non-profit related values, and ensuring that incoming lawyers share those values. It might also mean placing greater emphasis on pro bono work, and perhaps including it as part of performance reviews. It might even mean hiring professional coaches to work with their lawyers. Whatever the approach, taking steps to instill a greater sense of purpose into the work life of many lawyers will ultimately make them more committed, creative, resourceful, and yes: satisfied.

It is no secret that lawyers are, in general, a notoriously unhappy lot. It is also clear that lawyers are the most important resource of any law firm. Firms that value this resource would be well advised to take seriously the ideas put forth in Drive. In the end, when lawyers are satisfied with their work, everyone stands to win – not just the lawyers themselves, but their colleagues, their firms, and most importantly their clients.

Persuasive Techniques That Smart Lawyers Use in Court

Being a good lawyer requires a wide range of skills from having a comprehensive knowledge of the law, to being able to speak and perform well in front of an audience. They need to come up with a great strategy that weaves together the most useful facts and relevant laws and they need to be great at working with people and easing the concerns of a range of different clients.

Ultimately though, the main goal of any criminal lawyer is to persuade – to persuade the judge as well as the jury that their client is innocent. This means using the facts well, but it also means using subtle psychological techniques that can help to win over their audience – much the same as marketers and pickup artists might. Here are a few of the most powerful persuasive tools that lawyers can use.


The human brain responds well to repetition as it sounds confident and confirms something we’ve already heard as true. In one study it was found that waiters who repeated the orders they took to their customers would on average receive a 10% better tip. Lawyers can use this effect by repeating key points in their case, or by repeating what their witnesses and clients say in order to give it more authority.


When we communicate, the vocabulary we use is really on part of the story and unconsciously we will be paying a huge amount of attention to more subtle body language cues. This includes a range of little signs that can make someone seem more truthful – for instance when someone nods their head as they talk. If a lawyer wants to make their case more convincing then, simply using a subtle nod of the head as they emphasise could help to do just that.

Asking Questions

Aristotle was a great philosopher and the mentor of Plato. He had several ideas that helped him to achieve his historical status, but one of the most popular is the ‘Aristotle technique’ which basically means using questions to avoid directly answering awkward questions. For instance then, if someone says ‘where were you at 3pm?’, answering using the Aristotle technique could mean saying ‘why does it matter?’ or ‘what are you implying?’. Of course when used in defence this needs to be done subtly as it can otherwise be spotted by astute lawyers and prosecutors.

Leading Questions and Assumptions

Likewise savvy lawyers can also use leading questions and assumptions to stack the decks in their favour. A classic study in psychology involves showing participants a video of a car crash and then asking them to estimate how fast the other car was going in two conditions. In the first condition the experimenter will ask ‘how fast was the red car going when it bumped into the blue car?’ while in the second they ask ‘how fast was the red car going when it smashed into the blue car?’. Surprise, surprise the participants in the second group would estimate the speed as being significantly higher than those in the first group.

Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer

Hiring a personal injury lawyer requires the fulfillment of certain factors. This is necessary to ensure the outcomes of the case.

What Is Personal Injury?

In a neglect case battle, personal injury is a term that is used to define any harm that is caused to an individual. This can include broken bones, cuts, contusion or basically any bodily damage. It is also used to define any incursion of a personal right, inclusive of mental anguish and counterfeit incarceration. There is a high chance that in the case of an injury, the attorney would be able to secure far more damages than an individual on his own. On the other hand, the field itself is of a specialization and only certain attorneys are capable of managing these cases. For instance, a corporate attorney whose specialization is corporate law might not be able to handle a case of personal injury.

Choosing A Personal Injury Lawyer

Here it is necessary to note that certain circumstances need to be taken into consideration when choosing a personal injury lawyer. Even though the fact remains that all attorneys attend law schools and have to pass the bar exam, but this in no way qualifies them to fight a case of personal injury.

The factors that should be taken into consideration are:

– The time period of the attorneys practice

– Whether he or she has experience in a similar case

– His previous record

– Whether he or she is ready to take a case on contingency basis as well as the resources he/she has

Victims of personal injury who have a strong case at not have to pay any out of pocket expenses. Any legal representative would be ready to deal with such a case on a contingency basis. By contingency basis it is meant that all expenses that occur during the trial are the responsibility of the attorney and he or she would take his fee as a fixed percentage from the recovery that he attains. Usually, the percentage lies between 1/3 to ½ of the damages that had been caused.

Hence, personal injury lawyers should be hired on the basis of the aforementioned factors. They deal with personal injury cases on the bases of contingency.