I have been a social psychologist for my entire career, however, my occupation has not been in the traditional trajectory within my field. Most social psychologists are university professors. In fact, it is somewhat frowned upon for social psychologists to work in occupations outside academia. My major professor has always looked down upon my work as a trial/jury consultant, believing it is beneath my education and training to “get my hands dirty” by hanging around with attorneys. With the exception of the first five years after I earned my Ph. D., I have spent far more time with attorneys than colleagues. For that matter, I have spent far more time with attorneys than with psychologists of any type, both my colleagues in social psychology and others, such as clinical psychologists. I guess I must like spending time with attorneys! Some of my colleagues have remarked that they would never want to work for, or with, attorneys, perceiving them as vastly different in personality and ethics than those of us in the field of social psychology. Although it is certainly true that attorneys and social psychologists differ in many ways, I have truly enjoyed our differences. I have always had friends who are different from me, such that it wasn’t too much of a transition to spend my career with people with whom I have little in common, at least on the surface. Due to the fact that all of the attorneys with whom I have consulted have important, high stakes, cases, not “fender bender” or “slip and fall” cases, I have met many attorneys who are at the peak of their career. Almost all of them are nice to me and the ones who aren’t don’t have the opportunity to spend much time with me. Unlike some of my colleagues, who are rather petty about the smallest details of their lives (such as the time I observed one measuring his office to determine whether its square footage was big enough to house his huge ego), most of the attorneys with whom I have worked are more worldly in their views about life. I have enjoyed musical pursuits with some attorneys, including playing bass guitar in two different bands that included attorneys among their members and attending rock concerts with other attorneys. Just as there are differences among people in every profession, there are differences in attorneys, as well as social psychologists, with some people in both professions being pretty cool and others, well, not so cool. I will continue to spend more time with attorneys than social psychologists for the foreseeable future; I am satisfied with the career choices I have made.
Melissa has introduced me to more psychologists, and types of psychologists, than I ever knew existed when we first met. At that time, I was hanging around colleagues in my world of photography. While the photographers were visually creative, I came to learn and appreciate the creative minds of her psychology colleagues. Their conceptualization of human, and animal, experiments was, and is, fascinating. Their range of very unique personalities is interesting to observe. The behind the scenes view of academia proved concerning at times with petty squabbles, as well as the occasional glimpse of the dark side, when some of the academic types pushed beyond the boundaries now known as #metoo. As Melissa’s career turned from the corporate world to the legal world, mine changed as well. When we began working together in the trial consulting arena in 1991, I got to know the personalities of the attorneys with whom she had already become familiar as a trial consultant. And, while both professions have defining traits, clearly, the brainiacs of the psychology world and the tacticians of the legal world share some similarities. Specifically, it has been interesting to me to observe how psychologists in the legal psychology world have identified, researched, and attempted to bring positive change to the legal system. Many of our attorney clients have also used their knowledge and skill sets to influence justice and change, sometimes one case at a time, sometimes, more globally as with some of the pro bono cases in which we’ve been involved. It has been interesting over the years to get beyond the professional level acquaintances with either profession and move toward more shared common interests, be it with music, travel, food, photography (for me) and more. Attorneys (at least the trial attorneys with whom we work) overall seem to have a bigger perspective on the world due to the travel and variations in their cases. This has made it fun for me to get to know and work with attorneys. So, while I never envisioned that aspect of my, our, life, sharing those experiences is a reward in itself.
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