Greg Richards on Grace Under Pressure

Weir Foulds’ litigator (and my former colleague) J. Gregory Richards published a wonderfully thoughtful piece originally prepared for the Advocates’ Society called “Grace Under Pressure”, ZEN AND THE ART OF THE LITIGATION PRACTITIONER: Some Strategies for Dealing with the Unexpected and the Uncivil that bears reading for all litigators, and that firms should insist be read by young litigators. Greg’s thirty years of experience distilled to twenty points.

It’s all worth reading but I’ll quote a couple of paragraphs:

3. Great Lawyers Are Good Listeners
When someone speaks, listen carefully. A good talker can sometimes be a good lawyer, but only a good listener can be a great lawyer. An inability or unwillingness to listen inevitably results, to quote the iconic words of the prison warden in Cool Hand Luke, “a failure to communicate”. More conflicts – from wars between nations to squabbles between counsel – are caused by a failure to communicate than anything else. Minimize the unexpected and uncivil by following three simple steps: (1) listen, (2) think, … and only then, … (3) talk.

9. Make It Visual
We also live in the “Age of Computers and Television”. Where possible, make it visual: charts, tables, graphs, chronologies, photographs, videos, 3-D models – all of the above and more – are welcome in courts. These are the tools we use to make complex things simple. Consider as well that documents (e.g., motions, written submissions, factums etc.) argue for you after you’ve left the courtroom and, at the same time, help build a record for appeal should this be necessary. Clear, inviting material will make others – the court and your opponents – more disposed to your position.

20. At the End of the Day, Be Brave
When all else fails, take a deep breath, and stand your ground. Be brave. You owe it to your client. Giving our all for a client – diligently, resolutely and fearlessly – is the hallmark of our profession.

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