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20 TED Talks Every Legal Professional Should Watch

— June 12, 2023

In this thought-provoking presentation, renowned philosopher and Harvard professor Michael Sandel discusses the importance of moral and ethical values in creating a just society. ~ Michael Lazar, Executive, ReadyCloud

To help legal professionals stay inspired and informed, we asked 20 experts from various positions in the field, such as Growth Directors and CEOs, to share their favorite TED Talks. From “The Power of Vulnerability” to “Embrace the Future of Law,” discover the top recommendations and why they believe these talks are essential for your professional growth.

  • The Power of Vulnerability
  • Dare to Disagree
  • Why Good Lawyers Are Good Actors
  • Let’s Simplify Legal Jargon
  • Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast
  • Does Justice Always Require a Conviction?
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Politics
  • Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
  • How Great Leaders Inspire Action
  • The Danger of a Single Story
  • What’s the Right Thing to Do?
  • The Art of Negotiation 
  • Four Pillars of a Decent Society
  • Be an Opportunity Maker
  • How to Spot a Liar
  • The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers
  • How to Speak So That People Want to Listen
  • Think Like a Lawyer
  • How to Disagree Productively and Find Common Ground
  • The Future of Law

The Power of Vulnerability

One important TED talk for every lawyer is “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brené Brown. While not specifically about the legal profession, this talk explores the importance of embracing authenticity in our personal and professional lives. As lawyers, we are often trained to be stoic, logical, and unemotional, but Brown argues that vulnerability is a key component of human connection, empathy, and creativity.

In her talk, Brown shares insights from her research on shame, vulnerability, and courage, and encourages listeners to embrace their imperfections and connect with others on a deeper level. This message can be particularly relevant for lawyers who may struggle with burnout, stress, or feelings of isolation in their work. By recognizing the importance of the human connection, lawyers can cultivate a more fulfilling and authentic professional life, while also building stronger relationships with clients, colleagues, and the wider community.

Robert Reder, Attorney, Blythe Grace PLLC

Dare to Disagree

“Dare to Disagree” by Margaret Heffernan is an excellent TED Talk on conflict every legal professional should see for the insights. Heffernan focuses on the concepts of conflict avoidance and selective blindness, and how they can negatively affect organizations, while also making a strong case for the concept of good disagreement in the process. 

The former CEO of five different businesses, Heffernan draws from experience to explain how even the smallest conflicts can hinder progress forward.

Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Schwartzapfel Lawyers

Why Good Lawyers Are Good Actors

I highly recommend the TED Talk “Why Good Lawyers Are Good Actors” by Brian K. Johnson. 

In this talk, Johnson explains how acting techniques can be used by lawyers to better communicate with their clients and jurors. He emphasizes the importance of empathy and authenticity in the courtroom and provides practical tips for lawyers to improve their performance. This talk is particularly relevant for trial lawyers but can be applied to any legal practice that involves persuasive communication.

Span Chen, Growth Director, Notta

Let’s Simplify Legal Jargon

One helpful TED Talk for legal professionals is “Let’s Simplify Legal Jargon” by Alan Siegel. He discusses the possibility of replacing the thick and overly complicated legal language with plain English. Since Siegel is a branding expert, he finds that legal documents written in simple language will be beneficial for companies, private citizens, and even the government.

I believe that legal language is indeed quite hard to grasp by the common person, and some changes in that department will be beneficial in any industry.

Stefan Chekanov, CEO, Brosix

Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast

This TED Talk by Tom Wujec discusses the process of problem-solving and the necessity of teamwork, making it the one I would recommend to other legal professionals. Professionals in the legal field can benefit from the ideas presented here by engaging in cross-disciplinary discussion, coming up with novel solutions to problems, and working together more efficiently.

Bruce Mohr, Vice-president, Fair Credit

Does Justice Always Require a Conviction?

This TED Talk challenges common misconceptions about prosecutors and their role within the criminal justice system. Wesame advocates for alternative prosecution methods that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment, aiming to reduce recidivism rates. He presented a five-pronged approach for reintegrating individuals back into society, prompting other legal professionals to explore innovative solutions beyond traditional punitive measures.

Through the story of Chris, an example, a young man is given an opportunity for dismissal in exchange for pursuing his dream of becoming a chef, the speaker underscores the potential benefits of rehabilitation for both individuals and society. 

By shifting focus towards rehabilitation, legal professionals can contribute to breaking the cycle of the prison system. This TED Talk offers compelling ideas and real-life examples that encourage legal professionals to reconsider their role and explore more effective approaches to justice.

Johannes Larsson, Founder and CEO,

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Politics

In this enlightening talk, social psychologist Robb Willer showcases the importance of bridging ideological divides to create meaningful conversations and true understanding. 

With a humorous and relatable approach, he shares techniques on how to navigate difficult conversations, increase cooperation, and find common ground in political discussions. For legal professionals working with clients from diverse backgrounds, this talk offers invaluable insights on how to build stronger relationships, communicate more effectively, and navigate complex situations with ease. 

By embracing empathy and curiosity, legal professionals can foster an environment of collaboration and mutual respect, leading to more positive outcomes for all parties involved.

Basana Saha, Founder, KidsCareIdeas

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Amy Cuddy investigates how body language affects not only how others see us, but also how we view ourselves in this TED Talk, which I believe is the one I would suggest to other legal professionals. Lawyers would do well to study the effects of body language on their public persona, the dynamics of negotiations, and their dealings with clients.

Timothy Allen, Sr. Corporate Investigator, Corporate Investigation Consulting

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Because Simon Sinek explores the idea of encouraging action through the “Golden Circle” framework, I think this is the one TED Talk I would suggest to other legal professionals. 

The principles discussed in this session can help lawyers create more compelling arguments, inspire their teams, and more effectively engage their clients by highlighting the “why” behind their work.

Cindi Keller, Communications Coordinator, The Criminal Defense Firm

The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” isn’t specifically about law, but its core message is crucial for legal professionals. 

It discusses the significance of varied perspectives, a reminder of the importance of understanding our clients’ stories from all angles. It also demonstrates the power of effective storytelling, a critical skill in the courtroom.

Dilruba Erkan, Consultant, Morse Decoder

What’s the Right Thing to Do?

I would recommend checking out the TED Talk by Michael Sandel titled “What’s the Right Thing to Do?” This talk touches on a lot of ethical issues that legal professionals need to consider when making decisions. 

Michael does an excellent job of explaining the nuances between different ideas and perspectives and encourages people to think more deeply about their choices. It’s a thought-provoking talk that’s sure to leave you with plenty of food for thought. Whether you are currently practicing law or just studying the topic, I think it’s an essential watch for any legal professional.

Irina Poddubnaia, CEO, Founder, TrackMage

The Art of Negotiation 

In his TED Talk, former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss shares valuable insights into the art of negotiation. He emphasizes the importance of active listening, empathy, and effective communication in achieving successful outcomes. Voss’s talk provides legal professionals with practical strategies to navigate complex negotiations, whether with clients, opposing counsel, or in mediation settings. 

By understanding the power of empathy, learning how to diffuse tension, and leveraging techniques like mirroring and labeling, legal professionals can improve their negotiation skills and secure favorable results for their clients. Voss’s expertise offers a fresh perspective on negotiation, enabling legal professionals to approach their cases with a strategic mindset and achieve mutually beneficial resolutions.

Tiffany Payne, Head of Content,

Four Pillars of a Decent Society

In this thought-provoking presentation, renowned philosopher and Harvard professor Michael Sandel discusses the importance of moral and ethical values in creating a just society. 

Sandel challenges legal professionals to think beyond the confines of the law and consider the moral implications of their work. He argues that a just society cannot be achieved merely by following rules and regulations, but requires cultivating virtues such as empathy, solidarity, and a sense of community. 

This TED Talk is essential for legal professionals as it encourages them to reflect on their role in promoting a more just and equitable society, ultimately making them better equipped to serve their clients and contribute positively to the legal system.

Michael Lazar, Executive, ReadyCloud

Be an Opportunity Maker

“Be an Opportunity Maker” is the best TED Talk I have ever listened to, and I would love to recommend this to all the professionals out there. The author, Kare Anderson, who has suffered chronic shyness throughout her life, tells the moving narrative of her struggle to overcome shyness in this TED Talk. 

But everything changed for her when she started networking and assisting the individuals she met to recognize their innate abilities and talents. Since then, everything has gone according to plan. 

Anderson discusses the fact that many of us go about our daily lives, both at work and in our personal time, without giving any thought to how we may better our situations. She brings to our attention the fact that we always have the opportunity to create new chances. To accomplish this, we just need to bring to mind the specific characteristics that are shared by people who create new opportunities.

Sherry Xue, Digital Marketer, VAZASILK

How to Spot a Liar

In a courtroom, cross-examination often makes or breaks a case. There is a lot of pressure hinged on it, which is why it’s one aspect legal professionals can’t take lightly. Pamela Meyer’s talk provides valuable insights into identifying signs of deception, such as microexpressions and body language.

Watching this TED Talk will help legal practitioners explore techniques for detecting deception and understanding non-verbal cues. It provides beneficial knowledge that can equip lawyers to effectively cross-examine and assess witness credibility. As the title encapsulates it, you will know how to spot a liar by the end of the talk.

Khris Steven, Owner and Marketer, KhrisDigital

The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

Rodin's classic statue of a man in thoughtful repose, photographed fro below, against a partly cloudy sky.
Rodin’s “The Thinker” at the Rodin Museum in Paris. Public domain photo by Joe deSousa, via Flickr. CC0 1.0

To this day, I still refer back to this as my favorite TED Talk, and I would recommend it to all professionals and young entrepreneurs as well. Being able to think outside the box is a valuable skill in the creative industries and beyond. A talk by organizational psychologist Adam Grant titled “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers” is guaranteed to get you to “think different.”

Grant offers some truly original advice in this video about how to develop the practices that will lead to increased inventiveness. He has spent years researching the “originals,” as he calls them, and has come to a few conclusions about them. He argues that procrastinating on a project prevents the opportunity for fresh ideas. On the other hand, trying to rush through a task kills creativity just as much as taking your time with it. So, to discover your unique creative voice, you need to strike a balance between two extremes.

Harman Singh, Director, Cyphere

How to Speak So That People Want to Listen

This is the TED Talk I would recommend most highly to my legal professional peers because Julian Treasure provides actionable advice for enhancing one’s communication abilities by highlighting the significance of mindful speech and attentive listening. Advocacy in court, bargaining skills, and consulting with clients can all benefit from lawyers honing their communication skills.

Tiffany Hafler, Marketing Coordinator, Blockchain Lawyer

Think Like a Lawyer

Adam Lange’s “Think Like a Lawyer” TED Talk is an obvious one for anyone in the legal profession to pay attention to. The title says it all, and Lange, a well-educated, successful lawyer, dives into things with a very modern spin.

For one, he talks about “zeal” (“great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective”) and the need for it in today’s world of law. He also discusses how the things you learn in law school are essential, but don’t necessarily help you to think like a lawyer. Then, he discusses how a lawyer must think and what you can do to get in the right mindset to do the same.

It’s quite intriguing, and it’s one of the best TED Talks I’ve seen to this day. It’s an obvious fit for lawyers and anyone in the legal profession to check out!

Rahul Jha, Managing Director and CEO, Legal Entity Identifier

How to Disagree Productively and Find Common Ground

I’d advise legal professionals to listen to Julia Dhar’s “How to Disagree Productively and Find Common Ground” TED Talk.

She provides four points to keep in mind in order to handle disagreements in a fruitful manner:

  • Keeping the person and the idea separate
  • Practicing being less offensive about our ideas
  • Finding common ground with your opponent
  • Accepting that you might be wrong

These strategies can certainly be used in the legal field. My personal favorite is the last one. We shouldn’t be stuck on our personal opinions so much. After a productive discussion, you’re allowed to change your mind. There’s no shame in that.

Stoyan Mitov, CEO, Dreamix LTD

The Future of Law

I would recommend the TED Talk “The Future of Law” by Richard Susskind. Susskind’s talk is an excellent overview of the challenges facing the legal profession. It is a must-watch for any lawyer who wants to stay ahead of the curve.

Here are some key points from Susskind’s talk:

  • The legal profession is undergoing a fundamental transformation.
  • Technology is having a major impact on the legal profession.
  • Lawyers need to adapt to these changes in order to remain relevant.

Some suggestions for how lawyers can adapt to these changes include:

  • Lawyers need to embrace technology and use it to their advantage.
  • Focus on providing value to their clients.
  • Work in teams to share knowledge and expertise.
  • Become more entrepreneurial and think outside the box.

Brenton Thomas, CEO, Twibi

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