What Can Lawyers Learn From Surviving a (Simulated) Plane Crash Together?

Last spring, about 100 of Mayer Brown LLP’s senior associates from around the world arrived in New York City for a senior associate conference. Very quickly, they crash-landed in a frigid, desolate landscape in subarctic Canada in a Subarctic Survival Situation™ developed by Human Synergistics International. They landed far from civilization, surrounded by arctic swamps and high snow drifts, in freezing weather, and with no means of communication to the outside world. As the plane sunk, they were able to salvage only 15 items to aid their survival.

The obvious question of this exercise is whether one is better off making survival decisions on one’s own or by harnessing the power of a group. Not surprisingly, even among office-bound lawyers with strong personalities, groups nearly always outperform individuals. The not-so-obvious lessons about team building and leadership were plentiful as well. Here are five things that we learned from surviving together in the tundra.

Note: The steel wrench and candles are not among the actual items included in the Subarctic Survival Situation. They were used to preserve the integrity of the simulation.

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