Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 32

ON FURTHER RE VIEW

MAKING A CASE
FOR EMPATHY
By Lloyd Liu

E

mpathy renders ideas in higher
resolution. It is a key part of
understanding the subtext of a
case, the thing that really motivates
the parties, the witnesses, and
others. Effective trial lawyers get to
the heart of the case, identifying
certain implicit parts of a conflict
and making them explicit. Empathy
also allows access to a well of tacit
information that is overlooked when
taking a purely analytical, clinical
approach.

32 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

MAY 2020

Moreover, some people believe that emotions
are an integral part of our intelligence, not
something separate. This is an important theme
in Professor Melanie Mitchell's recent book,
Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans.
One point she makes is that when it comes to
artificial intelligence, designers have underrated
the role that emotions play in learning and
making decisions. To deny a role for feelings
would be to limit oneself.
On the other hand, being more open about
one's emotions and communicating that to
others invites blowback - something
opposing counsel might perceive as a
weakness. Emotional vulnerability may also play
into certain stereotypes. These are dynamics
that must be confronted and managed.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with
Anjali Chaturvedi, assistant general counsel
at Northrop Grumman Corporation, about
her time as a trial lawyer. Anjali has enjoyed
success in both the private and public sectors.
While serving as assistant general counsel
at BP, she led the response to criminal and
securities investigations related to the 2010
Deepwater Horizon accident. She honed her
litigation skills early on with the United States
Attorneys' Offices after graduating from
Georgetown University Law Center. In the
Washington, D.C., office, where she spent
10 years, she focused principally on prosecuting homicides and other violent crimes
as assistant U.S. attorney. Next was a two-year
stint in the Northern District of California
office in a supervisory role, then partnership
at Nixon Peabody LLP.

We started our conversation with her early
exposure to the courtroom. Anjali recalls a formative experience when she was a law student
interning with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the
District of Columbia. Sitting in the gallery of a
federal courtroom for a sentencing, Anjali was
observing a senior assistant U.S. attorney handle
a sentencing related to a drug-trafficking crime.
The defendant, who was about the same age as
Anjali, was sentenced to a significant period of
incarceration.
At the hearing's conclusion, one of the senior
attorney's colleagues came up to him in celebration, slapping him on the back. The senior
attorney turned and shook his head in disapproval, mindful of the process, the family in
attendance, and what had just happened.
Anjali recalls how it affected her: "I remember
welling up as I was walking away. It was the first
time I ever saw someone get sentenced." Her
telling of this story turned into a broader discussion about the role of empathy and compassion
in the legal profession.
"People seem to be afraid to acknowledge that
they have feelings. While you can never make
decisions solely based on feelings, they have a
role in the way we treat people," Anjali says. "It's
important to be mindful that there's still a
human being across the table from me who has
his own story about how his life ended up that
way." She adds that lawyers need to recognize
their emotions and feelings and understand
how they affect decisions.
Anjali credits her parents for her orientation
toward empathy and compassion. Her parents



Washington Lawyer - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - May 2020

LETTER TO MEMBERS ON COVID-19 CRISIS
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
ABA DELEGATE’S CORNER
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
REVOLUTIONIZING THE BUSINESS OF LAW
DIGITAL JUSTICE
ADVANCING THE HUMAN RIGHTS C AUSE ACROSS BORDERS
TAKING THE STAND
ON FURTHER REVIEW
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
SPEAKING OF ETHICS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: THE REVOLUTIONARY C RYSTAL EASTMAN
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - LETTER TO MEMBERS ON COVID-19 CRISIS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 8
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ABA DELEGATE’S CORNER
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - REVOLUTIONIZING THE BUSINESS OF LAW
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - DIGITAL JUSTICE
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ADVANCING THE HUMAN RIGHTS C AUSE ACROSS BORDERS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - TAKING THE STAND
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - SPEAKING OF ETHICS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 43
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: THE REVOLUTIONARY C RYSTAL EASTMAN
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover4
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