Lawyers and hearing loss: seeking input

Earlier today I participated in a very difficult conference call. I was listening on a handheld cordless phone. On the receiving end, a cellphone set to speaker was on the table surrounded by seven people.

These folks—who made every conscious effort to include me—also conducted the meeting in the grand tradition of meetings, often mumbling, interrupting, and talking over one another. I could only hear about half of what was said. This frustrating inability to hear and follow the conversation was a reminder of what people with hearing loss face on a daily basis.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/46123010@N04/9115159515/sizes/m/in/photolist-eTtzmF-8wHYSe-eR78eL-aPfUKi-aMvbFi-7SLwkE-cxnevo-cexWis-as6RP3-cfvjXL-8JHzNc-dXq86q-d5ZPzo-bFJasF-aTzwdD-dHK7ie-dPZvZu-8aDsm5-8aAdsM-edmbqU-89HtV8-8Z81U7-cw9zc3-dZEV25-f41Cof-aahz9T-b7jew4-bN88Yp-dfq89i-9ojb1K-89iRmy-a4WecS-cpjPkd-cpk6uq-cpiJaj-cpjdfb-cpjchd-cpk8PS-cpiU4y-cpjs5j-cpiHB1-cpjkZL-cpjiEu-cpjbgJ-cpjFCj-cpjBo3-cpkb33-cpkiq3-cpiEdN-cpjWoQ-cpjKM9/
Thermostinept/Flickr

If you are a legal professional dealing with hearing loss and if you would like to be interviewed or share advice with Listen Like a Lawyer’s readers, please comment below or e-mail me at jromig@emory.edu. The hope is that this conversation can help affected legal professionals to recognize and address hearing loss, and help others understand more about this issue in the legal workplace as well.

2 thoughts on “Lawyers and hearing loss: seeking input

  1. Interesting study you are undertaking. But I would like to see something more expansive beyond hearing loss. With more and more ‘Baby Boom’ era practitioners ‘hanging around’ the practice of law, i.e., never really retiring from practice, the onset of age-related physical and mental infirmities directly impacts our duty of competency under ER 1.1.

    But what about a reciprocal obligation under ER 1.4, which deals with clients (not lawyers) with diminished capacity. What happens when the lawyer not only can’t hear very well but when the memory starts to go? I have blogged in the past about the debilities afflicting the bench and the pitfalls attendant to self-regulation, i.e., there ain’t any. A while back taking a typical outlier position, Judge Richard Posner even advocated that after age 70, judges ought to submit themselves to a mental acuity test every 5 years. See http://lawmrh.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/steel-traps-and-states-rethinking-judicial-mandatory-retirement-ages/
    And then there was the ironic case of Judge Karen Williams who had earlier stated her opposition to mandatory testing of judges’ physical and mental fitness but then she found herself, voluntarily resigned following a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s. This is one reason I continue to post my concerns about lifetime tenure.
    Also see from January 2011, http://lawmrh.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/does-getting-older-really-mean-youre-getting-better-revisiting-the-challenges-posed-by-lifetime-tenured-federal-judges/
    – Mo

  2. Imagine having to interpret simultaneously into another language all that mumbling, interrupting, and talking over one another, which adds your own voice to the plethora of sounds. This is what court interpreters do every day. Difficult enough even when its not a conference call situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s