R: I unfriended this woman I’d known for awhile. I really liked her. But she said X and I just totally disagree.
K3: So sorry to hear that.
R: I’m so different than you. I’m just so emotional. You seem to be more objective and logical.
K3: Not really but I hear you.
R: I’m just so impatient with people who have opinions that are just completely different than mine.
Back when an editor of Shorecrest High School’s newspaper – The Highland Piper – I was in charge of the editorial column. Focused on the most provocative topics could think of. And presented each piece in the most know-it-all righteous way possible. Well, some people would say I still do things the same way…Certainly my heart is in the same place. But learning the craft of being a trial lawyer changed how I interact with people whose views differ from mine .
Trial lawyers don’t win by preaching, and demanding that people follow their direction. We certainly don’t win by alienating and polarizing jurors who feel differently than we do about major issues – such as whether lawsuits are a bad idea, or if human life can be valued monetarily.
I have left jurors on panels who said they did not like plaintiff lawsuits and did not believe in damages for pain and suffering. Have left defense lawyers on panels. And too many fiscally conservative people to count. Yet, at the end of the day many of the verdicts rendered have been outstanding.
How is it – that different people with greatly different viewpoints can come together to render a good and just decision.
Despite political, religious, racial, gender, sexual orientation, and other unique variables, jurors have certain core human values that transcend the differences and allow them to problem solve. Perhaps this is because the jury has a clear cut mission. They are focused on a goal that requires mutual cooperation.
[Note: prospective jurors who have biases that are so strong that they cannot be fair – are excluded from jury service “for cause”].
In the real world, people of diverse backgrounds have more difficulty interacting when discussing tough subjects. Facebook is exhibit A of watching the ever increasing polarization of America. Someone says something which someone disagrees with mightily and next thing you know friends of 20 years have blocked each other.
On our social list serves – mine being filled with attorney groups. One attorney lets slip a racist or sexist reaction. This results in group horror. Then (hopefully) suspension by the organization. Plus permanent blocking of the offender by the rest of the group. But let’s be clear. Just because people don’t reveal their inner most biases and prejudices doesn’t mean they don’t have them. Even those who secretly side with the loose lips sink ships attorney, will jump on the bandwagon of cancelling them – lest they be found out to be of similar ilk.
Cancelling someone does feel good in the moment. There is a taking back of power involved. And frank release of anger. For more thoughts on cancel culture see: https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/12/30/20879720/what-is-cancel-culture-explained-history-debateI
In that piece, Aaron Rose, a corporate diversity and inclusion consultant notes: “Mainstream internet activism is a lot of calling out and blaming and shaming.” He used to think cancel culture tactics created change but realized “that I was not seeing the true change I desired. We were still sad and mad. And the bad people were still bad. And everyone was still traumatized.” Now he seeks to “create more stories of transformation rather than stories of punishment and excommunication.”
The trial lawyer skillset does not embrace cancelling others. To the contrary. Being a trial lawyer means engaging in the art of persuasion with every single ounce of your being. It includes – Educating. Showing. Demonstrating. Explaining. Convincing.
Being a trial lawyer requires connecting with others. It is the opposite of cancelling other human beings.
Photo: Five months since last hair appointment and you can see the gray hairs even though I’m blue.