Building Attorney Resources: Helping New Lawyers Succeed Through Psychological Capital

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Knudson, Martha
lawyer; psychological capital; hope; resilience; self-efficacy; optimism; law firm; well-being; positive psychology; depression; anxiety; Legal Profession; Performance Management; Psychology; Training and Development
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thesis / dissertation description
Law firms seeking a competitive advantage in the marketplace would do well to consider that the positive psychological resources of firm lawyers are just as important to individual and organizational performance as their intellectual resources. There is growing evidence from the fields of positive psychology and positive organizational behavior that the resources of hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience shape the underlying attitudes and behaviors associated with increased performance. These resources may even buffer lawyers against the occupational hazards of the profession that cut against long-term success – hazards that include depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide. In this capstone I advocate for traditional law firm associate training programs to be enhanced to include the development of psychological capital (or “PsyCap”), a construct consisting of the components of hope, self-efficacy, resilience, and optimism. I discuss how policies that promote lawyer strengths and well-being are good for the lawyer, good for the law firm and ultimately good for business, and I propose a brief training intervention to boost lawyer PsyCap.