From the Desk of Steven N. Peskind

Monthly Memo #6

I have been super busy the last few weeks. Let me share what’s going on:

Top Guns: Interviews With America’s Best Divorce Lawyers

As a Diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, I have access to some of the greats of the profession. I got the idea of compiling their wisdom into articles about what makes them top guns. I have started interviewing these superstar divorce lawyers to deconstruct their habits, influences, systems, and superpowers (tip of the hat to Tim Ferris). I am posting the interviews on The Successful Lawyer YouTube Channel. I am also blogging about the lessons learned from each interview. 

My first interview was with the great Cary Mogerman from St. Louis. Many of you know Cary, but you will know him much better if you watch my interview with him. I have concluded that his superpower is wisdom and emotional maturity. After you watch the interview, let me know if you agree. If they gave a Nobel Prize for being a mensch, Cary would be on his way to Stockholm!

 Check out my article about what I learned from Cary’s interview, here.

TSL Resource Page

We have just developed a Resource Page on The Successful Lawyer website. I wanted to have a central place to post helpful reference information about the practice. I will periodically post links to articles and books that inspire me. Note the biographies of great trial lawyers. I get energized by reading about great trials and trial lawyers and would urge others to drink from this well of knowledge as well.

Communicators-In-Chief

I just finished a great book on writing and rhetoric: “Communicators-In-Chief: Lessons in Persuasion from Five Eloquent American Presidents.” This book blew me away. The author is Julie Oseid, is a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. Professor Oseid provides legal writing lessons by studying the writing styles of Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. But in my opinion, this book goes well beyond legal writing; it schools anyone on how to write and think more clearly.

After reading the book, I blogged on it (read it here) and reached out to Professor Oseid. She agreed to do a Zoom interview with me. I could have talked to her for 20 hours! Her book combined three of my primary interests: reading, writing, and Presidential history. 

What a treat it was to talk to her.

Some Random Stuff

  • I have been studying old Jack Benny shows from the 1950s on YouTube. Jack was the master of the pregnant pause. While he perfected it to get laughs, I consider it a quintessential tool for a trial lawyer as well. Watch this clip and tell me if you agree.

  • Instead of chopping up a recalcitrant witness with a verbal hacksaw, maybe a brief pause with a sardonic “Benny-like” look at the Judge will work better. Silence can be a powerful tool for a trial lawyer. Read my friend Bret Rapport’s article, “Talk Less”: Eloquent Silence in the Rhetoric of Lawyering.

  • When I interviewed Cary, he suggested I watch the Japanese Movie Departures. It’s about a young man, Daigo, who takes a job doing ritualistic washing of corpses before their cremation. The film depicts Japanese cultural aversion to this profession and how Daigo overcomes it to find purpose and meaning in his life. Cary pointed out the parallels between this profession and ours. In both, despite people’s aversion to us, we must help them transcend their emotional pain. It is a beautiful and powerful film. The cinematography and score are amazing. I highly recommend it. 

Reflections

What is something that feels productive to you in the moment, but usually ends up wasting time and energy?” — James Clear

Focus on What brings you energy, not what sucks it away.” — Daily Zen

It’s not that online trials are better than in person. It’s that litigation became lazy, bloated, and torpid, and we all know why. Now we spend less money and time to get the same or better results. We need to keep this new pace and culture when we return.” — Jordan Furlong

Well, that’s it for this month. I hope everyone is staying safe and sane. Don’t forget, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” I wish everyone well!

Stay in touch.