Looking back over some 40 years in this business I have dealt with all kinds of lawyers…sometimes as a judge but more so as a fellow attorney…. just one of the flock you might say. When I go to court where several lawyers are gathered, I can’t help but notice things like …well…their personality, for one. Lawyers, just like everyone else, all have different personalities. The quiet ones, the ones who sit off to themselves in the courtroom and such places, are usually thought of as shy or insecure. Maybe a bit standoffish. More likely though they are simply from another county and find themselves in unknown surroundings…or perhaps in deep thought over their upcoming argument, and prefer not to be bothered with friendly chit chat… none of which has a thing to do with personality. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that the lawyers you see with a smile, a friendly hello and a handshake … they are the cream of the crop usually…at least personality wise… and if they are worried about anything, you’ll never know it. They are usually the lawyers people feel the most comfortable with. Yes, lawyers are like everybody else when it comes to personality and, just like first impressions, personality goes a long way in the legal world. Especially in jury trials. I say jury trials…but not so much judge trials. That is because judges tend to somewhat ignore personality… they see the same lawyers …and their personalities… all the time. Judges get immune to a lawyer’s personality. Not that judges ignore a lawyer’s personality completely…they are just not so much taken in by it. Juries don’t have that opportunity of becoming familiar with a lawyer’s “attitudinal makeup” and a lawyer’s initial presentation, appearance and personality is much more important for the outcome of their client’s case in those circumstances. But seriously, why is personality important in the legal world? A warm and friendly personality can diffuse conflicts, make friends out of ‘would be” enemies... it shows real concern and understanding of “people” problems. A good personality can change minds. However, personality, as a persona must be natural…it must be real. People with genuine, warm and friendly personalities are trusted in what they have to say to others. People feel better about things, about outcomes and even about themselves when they are in the company of those with warm and sincere personalities. I believe personality is developed over a lifetime of experiences and life events that all work to mold a person’s ‘living attitude”. I am convinced that personality is something that is, at least partially inherited, too. My parents had real personalities…both good…but different. In fact, they were so different you would wonder how they ever met…more so how it came to be that they actually married. Mother had a warm personality guided by her faith and my father’s personality was governed by simply right versus wrong or at least how he weighed the two. A personality is something you cannot manufacture…if you do it will never be seen as genuine. As Shakespeare reveals to us in Hamlet, “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain!
The lawyers we have in this judicial district and in neighboring districts…with few exception…are a youthful group of professionals with real and genuine personalities. They are sincere in helping others and I can readily see it in their personalities. It is by far the best group I have had the pleasure of working with in all these many years. It is refreshing to know that I will soon leave this arena in good hands.