Today I’d like to offer some random ideas on a couple of subjects that apply to us as trial lawyers. Let’s start with the subject of meeting new people and remembering names. That’s a skill we all need to learn.
Paul Mellor is the president of success links a memory training company who presented a CLE for lawyers on that subject. He used the acronym COURT which stands for concentrate, observe, understand, repeat and translate. He says that to remember a name it’s vital that we concentrate on the name that is given. We need to be listening. As to observe, he says that if we are observing the person who is giving us their name we are at a disadvantage and remembering. Look into the person’s eyes when the name is said. Train yourself to study facial features. We also have to understand. Names are important so you need to understand how to say them correctly. If you didn’t catch the name ask to have it repeated or spelled. It’s also important that we repeat the name immediately. Lastly he uses translate to mean that we should translate the name into a picture such as Beverly becoming beverage in order to help us remember the name.
Roger Dawson has written a number of excellent books that are helpful resources for lawyers. One of them is Secrets of Power Persuasion. Dawson has these rules for meeting people and remembering their names. He recommends that you treat everyone you meet as if he or she is the most important people that you will meet that day. He says we should have a sensational handshake and need to learn how to give a proper handshake. He recommends looking into the eyes of the other person and using that technique of checking what color eyes the person has in order to remember to make eye contact. He says that as we make contact with a new person we are meeting, that we think positive thoughts. One should remember to smile and to hold the smile. Dawson also recommends that to remember names we need to first make sure we understood how to pronounce them. Ask the other person to spell the name if necessary. Dawson also recommends associating the name with something tangible in order to remember the name. He says it’s important to repeat the name and to use it as soon as possible in the conversation. Dawson also recommends that we remember to give sincere compliments.
On another self improvement subject, I’d like to also suggest that, as trial lawyers, we accept the fact that if we do our job well and with courage we will make enemies. We need to accept that fact and act with courage rather than worrying about how people will feel when we are doing something in our client’s best interests. I think Charles Mackay said it well. He was an English poet who died in 1889. He wrote these lines:
“You have no enemies you say.
Alas my friend the boast is poor
Those that mingle in the fray
That the brave endure
Must have made foes.
If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve smote no traitor on the hip
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip.
You’ve never changed a wrong to right.
You’ve been a coward in the fight.”
So, how do we deal with the fact people may not like us and some even hate us as well as what we do as a profession? We can listen to Abraham Lincoln who said:
“If I were to try to read, much less answer all the attacks, made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how – the best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”
Here’s another view of the same concern we have as normal human beings who want to be liked by everyone. The late Robert Mitchum was interviewed in 1994. He pointed out that “There are always people who will object. If you are short, tall people will diminish you. If you are tall, shorter people don’t like you. If you’re alive, people wish you were dead. I do the best I can for the most I can and if it displeases somebody, I’m sorry. I take what came and did the best I could with it.”
We should be proud of what we do as trial lawyers and always act with honesty, ethics and courage in representing our clients, come what may. Our attitude about our professional work should be that expressed by Theodore Roosevelt in a speech he gave in Paris in April of 1910 at the Sorbonne. One of the things he said should be our inspiration:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
That’s my advice for now. I hope found something helpful in it.