Thursday, March 6, 2014

How I Want to Be

During law school I didn’t just learn about the hearsay exceptions and the requirements for a valid will and presidential powers. My professors dedicated a good portion of teaching how to be a good person, because a bad person makes a bad lawyer. So much of what they taught me about honesty, forthrightness, and understanding has stuck with me.

My favorite piece of advice that a professor shared with me came in the form of a description of the lawyer that my professor admired most. This lawyer consistently understood and articulated the argument of his opponents. He made a better case for his opponent’s position than his opponents did, and then proceeded to respectfully explain what was wrong with his opponent’s position. And what made him an ethical attorney was his commitment to only taking cases he believed in; he didn’t argue that there were weaknesses in cases that weren’t weak.

I think this attorney (and I have no idea who he is) demonstrates a perfect balance of competency, respect, honesty, and ethical behavior. It demonstrates a compassionate attitude toward his opponent and humility that he doesn’t have the only good argument.

This is really how I want to be. I am far from this, but I’m learning. I’m trying to remember that everyone has good reasons for believing what they believe. I’m learning to take a moment to step back and see how issues that I disagree with can make a lot of sense. I am learning to be willing to change my mind, even if it makes me look silly. I am learning to not make up my mind so quickly, and then find post-hoc reasons for my position. And I’m getting better.