The Associate-Do It Yourself

Today we start a New Year-my first full year as a lawyer, John Henry talks about habits of a quality lawyer. Habits  to develop and stay with through my legal career. The habits center around the concept “Do It Yourself.”

The Great Artist.  John Henry begins by telling me a story about a William Cumming art exhibit he attended several years ago where Mr. Cumming spoke in the afternoon. When Mr. Cumming took questions a young man asked him if art school teaches a person how to be an artist. William Cumming looked at the young man in silence for several seconds and then said an artist is an artist and does not need to be taught how to be an artist by an art instructor. John Henry says the same is true of a quality lawyer.

Do the Research. John Henry uses the original case/statutory authority for his legal analysis. He shies away from secondary authority such as ALR or CJS. He teaches me to arrive at my own arguments given the story of my case and original legal sources. Like an artist we write from the heart. We do not rely on a another lawyer’s brief or on secondary authority.

One With Client. John Henry teaches to bound with our client. My client meets with me when we sign the case. I listen to my client tell her story. I have my client speak in the present tense and show and tell me what happened. This allows me to see as close to first hand how my client is impacted. I go to my client’s home and spend time with her to get into her skin to understand her injury. My client and I answer interrogatories together. My client and I prepare for her deposition together. We do this by discussing the elements of the case and telling the story in a clear compelling way.

Believe in Myself. John Henry says the key is to believe in myself every step of the way. Like William Cumming I am an artist in the law. When I know the facts inside and out, have my client’s story internalized, and  feel similar emotions to my client I am ready to trust myself. No one can show me how to try the case, and this is why I am a legal artist.

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