Sam Kamin at MoneyLaw got me thinking about this question. He asks whether law school admissions offices could employ measures other than GPA and LSAT scores to better predict the future success of applicants.
In my opinion, an under-utilized "statistic" in admissions is interpersonal skills. A lawyer's success certainly turns on analytical skills, writing skills, etc. But I think that lawyers -- like people in many fields -- end up "performing" better if they have a high emotional intelligence.
Of course, there are some reasons to be wary of lawyers who care too much about the feelings of other people. If a lawyer cares too much about being liked, she is probably not going to do a particularly good job. But emotional intelligence is not about being liked. It's about being able to "perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of ... others and of groups." So arguably, a fierce advocate who also has a high emotional intelligence will end up being a better lawyer than a similarly fierce attorney with a low emotional intelligence. For example, the lawyer with the higher emotional intelligence will have a better read on judges and juries, and she'll be better at prying information out of witnesses. In the transactional context, she'll be better able to negotiate a deal and get a transaction to completion. So I think that a high emotional intelligence probably leads to better lawyering.
So if it's true that a high emotional intelligence can help lawyers get ahead in the law, how can a law school assess whether applicants are emotionally intelligent? The easy answer is to interview all applicants who have the right GPA/LSAT numbers and assess their interpersonal skills.
The problem is that interviews are loaded with biases and arbitrary variables, so interviews do not necessarily tell us about emotional intelligence. But some measure of interpersonal skills would seem to be quite valuable. The challenge is how it can be measured reliably. Currently, some emotional IQ tests exist. Should we add the results of those tests to LSAT scores and GPA? Would a law school that admits students with an average LSAT of 160, an average GPA of 3.5, and high emotional intelligence scores "outperform" the students of another law school who have the same LSAT/GPA numbers and lower emotional intelligence scores?