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Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. ~ Josh Billings
([Henry Wheeler Shaw] 19th Century American humorist)
Maybe Mr. Rice chose me to write this blog because he believes people, and especially his law clerks, can learn something from every task they perform. As a recent graduate of the Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, I can attest to the fact that many of my fellow graduates, including myself, have struggled with putting into practice the knowledge that the quote above imputes. I have been clerking at Rice, Amundsen & Caperton since April 2010, and on my first day at work I learned that the number one reason to practice law is to: HAVE FUN, which is why it was only appropriate that this blog entry begin with a quote from an American humorist.
I recently had the misfortune of taking the Tennessee Bar Exam, and I can only pray that I studied enough to ensure I would never have to face that BEAST again. My boyfriend, who has said he was beginning to forget what I look like, assures me I did, but I will not believe his biased reassurances until I see my name on that list October 7th at noon. I have left the 12 hour study days behind, and replaced them with workdays of similar length, the main difference being: human interaction, which makes work that much more pleasant, most of the time. At work new developments have arisen in cases I left behind, new procedures have been put in place around the office, and new faces have appeared in the hallways, but one thing has not changed… every day is an opportunity to learn and improve.
I have learned a lot from the attorneys who practice with the firm, but the most important thing has been that I can never stop learning, as long as I want to be successful, that is. Mr. Rice makes sure that every mistake, every victory, and even every menial task teaches us something. Mr. Rice recently sent everyone in the office a link to an article entitled, “Negotiation as a Form of Persuasion: Arguments in First Offers”. The article talked about the different ways a first offer can be presented to an opposing party in ADR, the possible psychological impacts of the differing styles of presentation, and how an attorney can use this information to get positive results for his or her client.
The article states that though there is an advantage to making the first offer in any negotiation process, attorneys have a tendency to present their first offer with too many arguments of why the opposing party should take their offer. Studies show that parties who made the first offer achieved better results if their initial offer did not contain any arguments as to why the offer was a good one. Why, you ask? The general consensus was that providing arguments with the initial offer caused the opposing party to feel the need to generate counter-arguments, which makes sense if you were ever a 1L trying to answer a professor’s question and your argument prompted some gunner in the front row to play devil’s advocate so that he could potentially get some gleaming letter of recommendation from that professor. (I bet that gunner was really disheartened when he saw the generic letter that professor wrote to the Bar on his behalf… “I believe this candidate has the character and fitness to be a member of the Bar in Tennessee. Sincerely, Professor Don T. Brownnoseme”)
What can you take away from my summation? The party making the initial offer will come closer to the result desired if they layer their arguments in the negotiation process, and reveal their arguments only as those arguments are needed. We as attorneys are taught to be adversarial, and if you give us a reason why you are right, we’ve been taught to give you a reason why you are wrong. However, in this instance, if the offering party becomes greedy, and attempts to blow the other side away at the beginning, in one fell swoop, that offering party may just end up with nothing. Now, I’ll ask myself, what have I taken away from the task given to me? Sometimes your best argument is the one you don’t make.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper. ~ T.S. Elliot
If you found my ramblings at all interesting, you may find this article even more interesting. The author gives tips on what can be taken away from the study done by the authors of “Negotiation as a Form of Persuasion: Arguments in First Offers.” You must pay to read this article, but if you are interested in reading the full article you can click here to purchase it. Rice, Amundsen & Caperton is in no way affiliated with either of these websites, and does not profit in anyway if you click on the above listed links, or buy the article mentioned in this blog post. We simply thought these were interesting topics, and thought some of you might find them interesting as well.
Creating Your Legacy: Your Mom Was Right…Again.
I attended the Pillars of Excellence Ceremony over the weekend. It was a beautiful ceremony with many deserving honorees. Tribute after tribute, I began to notice a common theme. These men were not only academically proficient, skillful and hard-working, but they were professional, well-liked individuals.
How does one create his or her own professional legacy? How do you make it a positive one? Let’s face it, people talk. Professional reputations are important. How do you maintain the image you want? Well, it’s the same advice your mom has been giving you for years, “treat others as you want to be treated.”
Work with your opposing counsels to reach a resolution for your clients, not to satisfy your own end of “beating out another lawyer.” Think before you speak and act. Why is that so often forgotten?
I am fortunate to work for a firm that works each day to treat people with respect, both inside and outside of our doors. The partners and attorneys at our firm do not undervalue their employees, even all the way down the chain of command to the clerks. They do not underestimate their opposing counsels’ abilities or a judge’s ability to make an informed decision. They do not view a client’s problems as unimportant. I believe that is why they are so well-respected.
I am fortunate to work in a place where my work and the work of those around me is valued and appreciated. It is an important lesson that I am grateful to be learning so early in my career. You start building your professional reputation at an early age. It starts with showing your appreciation and respect for others. Add a little hard work, careful thinking, attention to detail, and, of course, a little luck, and you might just be fortunate enough to create a positive legacy that lasts.I’m proud to work for Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, a firm whose legacy speaks for itself…
One of the interesting aspects of Family Law is an attorney’s role as counselor. This was the very situation I witnessed last week. Family Law attorneys don’t just work for their client toward a solution in a financial way, but they can help heal their clients in an emotional way, as well. Consider a client who may recount a history of abuse and infidelity. This client would have a difficult time keeping composure because of the hurt and years of distress. By listening and empathizing with a client, a Family Law attorney can be a comfort to their clients emotionally.
The ability to pay attention to the emotions of a client and counsel them on the next steps of the divorce process in a way that a client can fully understand is a very important quality to have as a Family Law attorney. Many other types of law can be far less emotional. However, I enjoy Family Law because as an attorney in this field you are able encourage and create a close bond with your client.