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Do people who are less judgmental and more reflective make better lawyers in the multicultural environment of our global economy? Yes, probably, but Professors Susan Bryant of City University of New York School of Law and Jean Koh Peters of Yale Law School contend that such qualities can be taught. The two have codified what they call “cross-cultural competence” in a system called the “Five Habits,” which they suggest should permeate a young lawyer’s everyday dealings. THE FIVE HABITS: 1) List and analyze lawyer-client similarities and differences. Consider possibilities of misunderstandings, bias and stereotyping. 2) Identify and analyze differences and similarities between the client and the legal system, and between the lawyer and the legal system. Consider whether current strategies in the client’s case require the law or the client to adjust perspectives. 3) Challenge yourself to identify the many alternatives to interpretations to which you may be tempted to leap. By engaging in this parallel universe thinking, lawyers are less likely to assume — on limited information — that they understand reasons for client behavior. 4) Be aware cultures have introduction rituals that build rapport, comfort and trust. Learn to consult translators and pay careful attention to cues from the client at the initial interview stage. 5) Acknowledge your personal stress and prejudices, in an analytical rather than judgmental way. Find ways to control these factors in order to be effective counsel.

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