2015.20: Listen!

Listening is vital to trial lawyers. It’s probably more important than any other single skill, but it is less studied, less trained, and less practiced. Lawyers often don’t listen very well. I’ve seen egregiously bad examples from all sides of the criminal bar; many times I’ve wanted to shake a lawyer or judge by the collar and shout, did you not hear what that person just said?

I have written about listening here multiple times. Among other posts, I wrote in 2007 about listening, attentiveness, and mindfulness; in 2008 about the value of listening; and in 2009 about how not listening was the worst voir dire advice ever. Listening is explicit in two of my rules for better jury selection—Rule Two (The Blind Date Rule) and Rule Fifteen (The Bat Rule) and implicit in the rest.

It’s an important and interesting topic. Both psychodrama-director training and improvisational-theater training make me a better listener.

So I was thrilled to discover, via the Twitter Machine, Jennifer Romig’s Listen Like a Lawyer blog. It’s not really about listening like a lawyer, of course, since lawyers don’t listen very well, but about lawyers listening better.

Romig’s posts are lengthy, substantive, and link-rich. She’s writing for lawyers about things that lawyers need to know. (Before every trial I’m going to ask all of my juniors to read her recent post on second-chair listening.) This is the practical blawgosphere at its best. More, please.

4 responses to “2015.20: Listen!”

  1. Good points. As so much communication is non-verbal, I think observing, which includes listening, is key.

    Sherlock Holmes said,
    “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.”

    Lawyers need to observe. It takes practice and actually it is fun.

  2. Mark, thanks for this post and for the kind words. You concisely encapsulated the entire point of the project — “lawyers listening better.” The dilemma, as with many skills, is that bad listeners may not even know they are bad. (It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect in listening.) Or they may know and not care because they think good and bad listeners are born rather than made. Reaching new lawyers is one way to address both of these problems. That’s why it’s so rewarding to hear about experienced lawyers sharing any part of the blog with new lawyers. Your encouragement means so much. Thank you!

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