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Trial Lawyer and Human Culture

Updated: May 5, 2021

Want to be a better trial lawyer? Read literature, histories and biographies.

Much of being a trial lawyer is understanding human nature - why people did what they did. How decisions were made. What went wrong and what went right. You need a sense for how to read people and situations.

Personal life experience certainly informs us. What we learn from other cases tells us a lot. Neither is enough, however. That’s where serious reading comes into play. Great literature provides wonderful insights into people’s thinking and emotions. You get studies of personal struggles and interactions. Histories tell us how events happened. Biographies give us insights on who made that history.

Personally, for over 40 years I have loved almost anything Russian. My wife jokes that I must think that if I read one more history of the revolution it will turn out differently. She has a point, but those works still have something to tell us. For example, I just re-read Doctor Zhivago. When talking about “transforming” a society, it is familiar to us in ways Pasternak likely never considered – chillingly so, in fact.

Reading is a pleasure and distraction. It also good training.

Incidental benefit: You’ll be more interesting.

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