There are several ways to land a good job at a major U.S. law firm. Telling the managing partner that his lawyers need professional help usually isn’t one of them. But that, in short, is how Cynthia Pladziewicz, a lawyer turned clinical psychologist, wound up as the chief development officer at Thompson & Knight last year.

In a decade of private practice as a psychologist, Pladziewicz had developed a sort of unofficial specialty treating lawyers. She knew that they, like everyone else, had issues. But she also knew that the very characteristics that made attorneys successful could, ironically enough, spell trouble outside the office. In particular, those same personal characteristics did not bode well for success in business development, an increasingly important activity for firms. Pladziewicz had solutions.

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