Here's an article I wrote a very long time ago for Lawyer Hiring & Training Report. It covers such topics as theory of attribution, just-world phenomenon, and groupthink. (This is the kind of discovery one makes when cleaning out old, old files: old, old articles. It's helpful to see that how much I have learned since 1993. The article would be different if rewritten today.)
Those responsible for the training of lawyers can benefit greatly by borrowing from various disciplines of social science. In fact, in this increasingly specialized world, it is the responsibility of trainers to delve into other disciplines and bring back from them information and skills that will assist and enhance the professional development of the lawyers in his or her firm. Cognitive psychology and adult learning theory are gold mines in which to find the best methods to help lawyers learn most efficiently and with the most retention.
The fields of intercultural communication and cultural anthropology teach one how to analyze the culture of the firm in order to best adapt training; it also helps one to analyze the culture of the client's organization to help adapt services and communication. (A good book to read is Communicating with Strangers by W.B. Gudykunst and Y.Y Kim, McGraw-Hill, 1992.) Theories of intelligence point the way to understanding the kinds of skills a firm seeks in its associates and how to strengthen these skills. (One eye-opening article for both recruiters and trainers is "Three Heads are Better than One" by Robert J. Trotter in Psychology Today, August, 1986.)
The interdisciplinary attitude and ability of training personnel can significantly improve a firm's
professional training program. Using knowledge from various disciplines, he or she can also teach the firm to improve its performance evaluations, understanding of clients, firm management and recruiting. As an example of a foray into one of the social sciences, let us look at a bit of what psychology has to offer.
Psychology is a big field and it covers a multitude of human (and animal) tendencies and behaviors. Among other phenomena, it looks at 1) how we judge or explain each other's behavior; 2) how we interact with each other; and 3) how we influence one another. Obviously, it would be advantageous for a lawyer to improve his knowledge of those three areas of human consort. Lawyers judge, interact and influence at the very core of their profession. Therefore, psychology has much that would be valuable to teach in a law firm.
Click to read the rest of "There's Gold in Them There Social Sciences" [pdf].