Performance Enhancement for Litigators: An Exploration of Potentially Applicable and Beneficial Mental Skills


John Rowley

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Steve Portenga

First Committee Member

Dan Himmelstein


Litigators, Trial attorneys, Performance psychology, Mental skills, Law practice

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


Litigators, synonymously known as trial attorneys or trial lawyers, can face daunting challenges as they practice their profession, especially as it relates to their courtroom preparation and performance. The applied field of performance psychology promotes the use of an amalgam of mental, emotional, psychological, and behavioral skills (collectible referred henceforth for this paper as "mental skills") to address and enhance approaches to demanding human endeavors and experiences; for example, in such realms as athletics performing arts, high risk occupations, healthcare, and the business world. the purpose of this study is to explore seasoned litigators' experiences and opinions regarding mental skills challenges they face in their law practice, their efforts to address them, and the perceived applicability and benefit of mental skills to potentially optimize their practice of trial law. The study employed a qualitative research design, and interpretivist paradigm, and a phenomenological / limited autoethnographical research method to explore these topics with the participating trial lawyers. Overall, the findings were that trial attorneys are exposed to numerous circumstances that can produce significant stress, anxiety, and pressure and the attorneys' means to address them are typically informal and self-created. Further, this study demonstrated that certain areas within the performance psychology domain are perceived by litigators to provide enough value that they would consider attending approved continuing legal education (CLE) courses in such topics.


38 pages

Paper Method

Empirical - Qualitative

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