October 2015 Bar Bulletin
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October 2015 Bar Bulletin

A Non-Voodoo Pin Cushion Analogy for Legal Team Analysis

By Robert WM Zierman


A "pincushion corner" is a surveying term to reflect the situation in which two or more monuments are identified by various surveyors to signify a single property corner.1 This multiplicity is problematic because adjoining real property owners are not able to determine the bounds of recorded title, much less their actual property bounds as may instead be determined by unwritten rights.

Turning away from surveying practices, this article seeks to create a helpful pin cushion analogy. The intended benefit is to provide a means of depicting four characteristics. The characteristics that might ultimately be served could be identification of the scaled degrees of presence of legal elements. This in turn would allow a quicker review of differences among cases to find those that are "on point."

While law isn't currently structured in this form, at least two of the many personality type identification methods do in some cases seek to identify or measure four characteristics.2 The one that seems to be most universally recognized is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI). The universal appeal of the MBTI might be due to the fact that it traces its intellectual lineage to Carl Jung.

What's important for explanation here is that the MBTI has four binary characteristics. When one of each of the four binary characteristics is selected, 16 different personality types emerge. These types are composed by determination of preponderance toward: extroversion (E) versus introversion (I); intuition (N) versus sensing (S); thinking (T) versus feeling (F); and judging (J) versus perceiving (P). In Figure 1, you will find these four binary groupings graphically depicted with a fulcrum at their respective midpoints like teeter-totters.

Disregarding for the moment the first binary characteristic of extroversion v. introversion, the other three types may be arranged with judging v. perceiving along an x-axis; thinking v. feeling along a y-axis; and sensing v. intuition along a z-axis. A two-dimensional representation of this three-dimensional set of binary pairings is shown below (Figure 2). Notably the intersection - or origin - is the fulcrum point of each of the three binary characteristics as originally shown.

Figures 3, 4 and 5 below seek to clarify three persons' differing degree types respecting perceiving, thinking and intuition. The person represented by Figure 3 is moderately low perceiving, more highly thinking, and high intuition. The person represented by Figure 4 is more low-moderate in all three characteristics. The person represented by Figure 5 is moderately high perceiving, low-moderate thinking, and high as to intuition. The gray line in each box seeks to represent the hypotenuse extending from the origin to the farthest outside corner and beyond.

The reason for continuing beyond the endpoint of the box is that the line acts as a ray continuing forward to break what will soon be recognized as a sphere. It is at this point that we can add the fourth characteristic of extroversion v. introversion. For the persons already represented with respect to three characteristics in Figures 3, 4 and 5, let's assume that each respectively scores along the extroversion v. introversion as identified in the figures below.

The result is that each of these three scales representing the degree of extroversion or introversion can be considered a "pin." The pin in turn is inserted into the sphere at the place the hypotenuse-generated ray breaks the plane of a sphere. The pin should also be angled toward the center point of the sphere. This center point is also the origin of the ray as well as the lower left corner of each of these specific boxes.

Most notably, the pin would be inserted up to the point of the individual's level of extroversion or introversion. Those pins that barely enter depict not only the degree of perceiving, thinking and intuition with respect to their points of insertion, but also a high degree of extroversion. Alternatively, pins that go deep would instead depict introversion along with the appropriate degrees of perceiving, thinking and intuition. This is demonstrated in Figures 9, 10, and 11.

Now, I recognize that this might seem like quite a bit of work, the yield for which might not be sufficient when looking at a single person's MBTI. However, the benefit becomes increasingly significant when one uses this pin cushion method to identify at a fairly quick glance how a team differs.

Presently nobody is on the other side of the "GMT/International Dateline,"" i.e., a person who is more judging. This is represented below by Figure 12. What's more, nobody is "south of the equator,"" i.e., one who is more feeling. This is represented by Figure 13.

Not shown is a representation where the forward hemisphere is completely eclipsed. That area is where everyone has some degree of sensing as opposed to intuition.

Figure 14 wraps it all up by demonstrating this particular team is composed only of folks who are very similar. If this were your legal team, the lack of breadth, width and height of personality characteristics probably means there is nobody with alternative personality characteristics who might be in the best position to back-test ideas by playing devil's advocate. Lack of such insight might come back to haunt you.

Robert WM Zierman is the founder of Justice Smiles, pllc, a firm that seeks to attack boundary dispute problems and provide resolution for its clients and their neighbors. His gratitude is extended to graphic designer Curtis Dickie who helped in the preparation of these figures.

1 For a whole treatise on this situation, see Lucas, Jeffrey N., The Pincushion Effect: The Multiple Monument Dilemma in American Land Surveying, NSPS (2011).

2 Highlandsco.com; jocrf.org [Johnson O'Connor]; Kolbe.com; Myersbriggs.org; and Strengthfinder.com are some of the most prominent. Beyond Myers-Briggs, Kolbe is numerically scaled for four characteristics on a 1-10 scale.

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