Denver Bar Association
November 2003
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Networking by Accident, Art of Arguing

by Paul Gordon
Reprinted from the DBA YLD Newsletter

If you prepared for your last social event by grabbing a couple of business cards, you do not know how to network. In a recent four-person scramble, my semi-randomly selected partners included two highly respected attorneys who had nothing to gain from me, but I had a unique problem with my next trial and needed some experienced guidance. I knew from past ineptitude to wait for the opportunity to ask for help. In the meantime, I made a common mistake for me. Knowing I needed to use one club away from a 7-iron, I grabbed a 6-iron instead of an 8-iron, and finished the shot within 8 feet of the cup. Keeping my club selection to myself, I found something to offer, and they saw something to gain. Networking is neither an art nor a science; it’s an accident, usually in the midst of having fun.

I have lost my unfair share of arguments. Looking back, I see an obvious common denominator to my losing arguments. They all had a good faith basis. I have started to wince at the sight of a young lawyer about to take my client’s deposition. I can generally predict that the deposition will take too long and that I would make matters worse by complaining. As a practical matter, young lawyers should take too long and should not be apologetic about it. Charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, a defendant representing himself at trial asked one of his intended victims the following question: “After you were hit by a bullet and fell to the ground and you looked up, who did you see?” The witness said, “You.” The art of lawyering is knowing what not to ask, knowing what not to say, and ultimately, knowing who not to represent. But these are lessons learned no way other than the hard way, so don’t apologize for being young. Just try to remember that the practice of law is not the tyranny of the possible.

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