Dare I draw a parallel between two seemingly dissimilar pursuits as lawyering and fishing? One is an avocation practiced, for the most part, indoors. The other a recreation practiced, for the most part, out of doors. When I asked Google to compare lawyers and fishermen, the search returned only an unflattering article comparing lawyers to a certain species of fish. Wade deep into both worlds, however, and one can appreciate the traits that make a good fisherman also make a good lawyer and vice versa.
The Art of Presentation
A good fisherman knows he cannot throw anything into the water and expect a fish to bite. A fisherman practices the art of persuasion as much as any courtroom lawyer. His objective is to persuade a fish that his offering looks, smells and acts just like its natural quarry that it gulps down without hesitation. If the bait or lure presented looks or smells bad or acts unnatural, the fish will swim away. It is much the same in the courtroom. If a lawyer’s evidence looks or smells bad or seems unnatural, he is unlikely to persuade a jury to swallow his line.
Thought and preparation must precede the presentation. Careful selection of a dry fly to match the hatch along a stream is as important to the trout angler’s success as a lawyer’s selection of his words before oral argument. A novice angler often allows the line to smack the water alerting every fish present to his posturing. But the skilled placement of flies or words in an alluring manner is a sign of craftsmanship.
Perhaps there is some similarity about making a cast and making a sentence – both must be accurate, graceful, rhythmical and neat.
The Art of Storytelling
Good fishermen tell good stories. They draw from the richness of their experience, the humor of their gaffes, the wisdom of their years, and the beauty which inspires them. And, of course, they embellish. A fisherman’s story is a tapestry appreciated by any age. In law, storytelling is often left to trial lawyers, but find a lawyer who fishes and you will find a good storyteller.
The Quest for Your Best
There hasn’t been a fisherman in history who has won the battle with every fish he hooked, nor a lawyer that hasn’t felt the disappointment of one that got away. Success is temporary. Failure is motivation. And learning is continual.
Optimism is fuel for the fisherman as it is for the lawyer. Each occasion is another opportunity to apply one’s skills against a worthy opponent. And as he ages, I suspect both the fisherman and the lawyer find more satisfaction in passing along his craftsmanship to another so that someone else’s life may be equally enriched.