Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...

thinking like a lawyer (revisited)

Further to my previous post about this, Scheherazade has since given her own answer on this, which is probably more emotive than mine, but drew some interesting comments (see in particular, the one from David Giaclone which links a couple of interesting articles).

Scheherazade commented:

Being good at law means you're very good at breaking complicated questions down into parts and looking without emotion at those parts. You're able to separate pain, sorrow, misfortune, shame, anger, expectation, and outrage from analysis and decisions. You're good at isolating those problems you are able to solve, and ignoring those that aren't on your plate right now. You're good at being able to move, step-by-step, to a conclusion, and to move through a series of conclusions to a specific result. You can show how different conclusions at any step might change the result.

This I agree with. It's not all that different from what I wrote.

But I don't agree with this:

But the problem with learning and practicing law is that it elevates this kind of thinking above everything else. Narrow, precise, analytical, articulate, rational, dispassionate. I'm good at that, as far as it goes. But the truth about me is that I am also messy and sensitive and intuitive and warm and imaginative and empathetic and joyful and easily moved by beauty. I want to connect with everyone. I want to put people at ease.

As I said in a comment on Scheherazade's post, I think the "thinking like a lawyer" part of the process means that you give good advice to your client. The rest of it, the sensitive, intuitive, warm, imaginative, empathetic and joyful part of it, is part of how you deal with the client and the client's problems. Aggressive people tend to be aggressive lawyers. And people like me, who dislike conflict, tend to negotiate a conclusion. Personally, I think my way is better. I'm prepared to be the bulldog litigator when I need to be, but I generally prefer to win by reaching an agreement with the other side/s. My first boss told me that in most cases, if you have to take a civil case to court then you've already lost. And I believe that. The costs to the client nearly always outweigh the benefits. Of course, there are exceptions, like when the other side is being a complete bastard about it, but generally the individual client will not benefit from going to court.

One of things I like about working for government is that we are more likely to take a case on, or appeal it through, because of the principle of the matter. We litigate literally hundreds of cases each year so long-term benefits and changes to precedent will directly impact upon us. Unlike individuals who generally only benefit from the individual case, not from any ongoing changes to the law.

But anyway, this is getting onto a completely different topic. The point I wanted to make was that you can analyse the case in the "thinking like a lawyer" sense and then use your more human qualities to bring the matter to it's conclusion. The two are not mutually exclusive in the practice of law. You just have to find an area which matches your personal ethics and interests.

Listening to: Ben Folds - Live


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