Most people would generally agree that lawyers are part of a serious profession. In fact, the courthouses that lawyers operate include lined columns, cathedral ceilings, and other attributes that give the judiciary an August feel. Additionally, most law firm websites feature the well-known series of professional headshots of attorneys in work attire that appear to convey the seriousness of the attorneys at this firm. On social media, lawyers often post somewhat dry client notifications, presentations, and other media backing the argument that lawyers are serious professionals. Most legal writing, be it letters, memoranda, or pitch letters, is often monotonous and formulaic to convey the importance of the discussion. However, in my personal experience, lawyers can have a greater influence in the court and relate more to their clients when they are sometimes less serious.
When I was studying law, I first realized that lawyers are less serious. At that time, I was receiving literature on various law firms recruiting on campus. Each of these brochures had the same boring skyscrapers and professionals in suits, and it was easy to confuse one of these companies with another. However, one of the documents was different, and the leaflet's slogan was “Are you ready to rock with ___?” (The space was the company name that rhymed with “rock”). I really appreciated that this company was less serious and different, and that nontraditional approach led me to work for this company.
Corporate nicknames are another way lawyers can benefit from acting less seriously. There is a big biglaw company whose nickname is the same as a common curse phrase. Funnily enough, the company seems to have adopted that nickname, and their URL is even that curse phrase. People in the legal profession like to refer to this firm with the usual curse word, and I even spoke to an in-house professional earlier this year who said he knew people who are hiring the firm because of the nickname! Less serious action and humor made this law firm stand out in the marketplace, and this shows the power of being less serious as a lawyer.
Lawyers can also be more successful at starting businesses if they sometimes act less seriously and engage with potential clients on a more personal level. Of course, some clients prefer a reputable attorney to rely on, and you can often read the room to know that this is the page to come up with at a pitch meeting. However, many clients want their lawyers to be colorful characters who are real people just like them.
For example, I once looked at work a client had bought from a number of law firms. The client showed up to our meeting in shorts and flip flops and was an extremely relaxed guy. During the pitch meeting, I used a bit of colorful language to describe the client's opponents and the weaknesses in their arguments. I could see the client's face light up when he heard this and he soon chose my company for his work portfolio. He often referred to the colorful language I had used in later conversations, and it was clear that by acting less seriously and having a more personal relationship with the customer, I could stand out in the legal market.
Being less serious can also aid lawyers in their legal standing in court. Legal writing can often be very formulaic, and if we're being honest, it's pretty boring. Most lawyers present their arguments in a rigid style and use boring legal language to present their arguments. Of course, it makes sense that litigation and court letters should be easy to digest so people can review materials as efficiently as possible.
Great legal writing, however, is interesting to read, and tells a story with metaphors, colorful language, and maybe a few jokes. I first saw the power of this writing style in Biglaw, working with a colleague who had mastered the art of legal drafting. This employee would use interesting quotes, sports analogies, colorful metaphors, and other tools to get their point across. While this writing style was somewhat unusual, it wrote many of the briefs we submitted, and this creative writing effectively conveyed our points.
Even in the oral legal profession, it can be beneficial for lawyers to be less serious. Judges are normal people like the rest of us, and their eyes can gloss over a mild argument like any other. So the use of brightly colored language, relatable examples, and maybe a few jokes usually doesn't hurt the oral advocacy. I remember early in my career I appealed to the Appeals Department in New York against a man who fell from a height of seven feet. I shared that I was almost seven feet tall (actually 6 & # 39; 9 & # 39; & # 39; but it's kind of close!) And this didn't look too tall from my perspective. The judges appreciated my humor and were more able to relate to one of my arguments. Numerous state and federal judges have read my columns and emailed me over the years, and I would like to hear legal practitioners' opinions on the matter. In either case, it is possible that being less serious and thinking outside the box can help with verbal advocacy.
All in all, as I mentioned earlier, lawyers are fun people, and in fact, I'm really going to miss kicking back to holiday parties with my fellow lawyers this year. However, the legal profession can be very serious and boring at times. By acting less seriously in certain circumstances, lawyers may be able to do more business and stand up for their clients better.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service law firm based in New York and New Jersey. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website that discusses how he paid off his student loan. You can reach Jordan by email at [email protected].