There has been an interesting discussion about the issues related to the aging of the legal profession. Stephanie introduced us to the article “the Graying Bar: let’s not forget the ethics” by David Giacalone.
In short: statistics about the increasing ratio of lawyers over 70 in active practice, on the one hand, and the general incidence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, on the other, lead David to point out an increasing likelihood that some lawyers may be practicing in less than ideal conditions for their clients, beyond a reasonable “brain age”. The question then becomes: who and how can solve this problem, which is only going to grow given demographic trends?.
We are not legal experts, but would like to inform the debate by offering 10 considerations on healthy aging and job performance from a neuropsychological point of view, that apply to all occupations:
1– We should talk more about change than about decline, as Sharon Begley wrote recently in her great article on The Upside of Aging — WSJ.com (subscription required).
We discussed some of these effects with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, who wrote his great book The Wisdom Paradox precisely on this point, at The Executive Brain and How our Minds Can Grow Stronger.
2– Some skills improve as we age: In our “Exercising Our Brains” Classes, we typically explain how some areas typically improve as we age, such as self-regulation, emotional functioning and Wisdom (which means moving from Problem solving to Pattern recognition). As a lawyer accumulates more cases under his/ her belt, he or she develops an automatic “intuition” for solutions and strategies. As long as the environment doesn’t change too rapidly, this growing wisdom is very valuable.
3– …whereas, yes, others typically decline: Read the rest of this entry »