Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Lawyers second on list of professions with most psychopaths

Lawyers second on list of professions with most psychopaths


Psychopathic traits must be harnessed to achieve the best results, says expert

With the legal sector booming, members of the profession may not be aware of a contributing factor to its success - the psychopathic lawyer.

In 2013, lawyers finished second only to CEOs in the list of professions with the most psychopaths. The bizarre honour was given to the legal profession by psychologist Kevin Dutton of Oxford University's Department of Experimental Psychology, who conducted the 'Great British Psychopath Survey'.

As reported in the Independent, below CEOs and lawyers were those working in media, salespeoplersons, surgeons, journalists (ahem), police officers, clergypeoplersons, chefs, and civil servants.

Psychopathic traits that may be associated with lawyers include charm, arrogance, aggression, ruthlessness, and fearlessness, but do these characteristics equal success?

Research has found that despite psychopaths occupying high-paying roles, they tend to earn less than their colleagues, struggle with relationships, and ultimately, be less successful than their colleaguesco-workers.

However, Dutton told the Telegraph in 2014, that to be successful in business and relationships, a balance needs to be struck: 'I'd done research with the special forces, with surgeons, with top hedge fund managers and barristers. Almost all of them had psychopathic traits, but they'd harnessed them in ways to make them better at what they do.'

He added: 'There's no one thing that makes a psychopath. You want to think of those traits being like the dials on a studio mixing desk, that you can turn up and down in different situations - if they're all turned up to maximum, then you're a dysfunctional psychopath.'

With successful CEOs looking to hire the best lawyers to solve their legal issues, they may have to reflect on their own traits before choosing one.