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Russell Shaw Headshot

If You "Hate Lawyers," I Already Know Something About You

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Although I'm not an attorney, I often review legal documents and interview lawyers for many of my ongoing journalistic projects.

One thing about lawyers: they are detail-oriented. Part of this mindset is an ability to see hidden nuances in issues, and then be able to parse supportive research to turn those hidden nuances into action items suitable for courthouse action.

If the lawyer who has engaged her or his abilities to do this is on your side -- or a side you heartily espouse, then they are likely to be your hero.

But the very traits of being detail-oriented and able to find hidden nuggets of potential argumentation and then develop them into full-fledged articulation is considered anathema to those people who are more reactive-driven than thought-driven.

Odds are you know these people. "Just give it to me straight." "No legalese or psychobabble." "No bullshit."

I stay away from people like that. While I am not a lawyer, I am a journalist. People in my trade rely on some of the same skill sets of research and argumentation that lawyers do.

But the anal-retentive "give it to me straight" people that can't or won't think more deeply about an issue? The skill sets required to think more deeply are alien to them.

And since many, if not most, lawyers have that skill set, that's why the literal-minded think lawyers are full of it.

Also, don't even get me started about why so many people who hate lawyers are law-and-order types. If you are for law-and-order, you should be an advocate for the process of law, as practiced by prosecutors and defense attorneys -- all of them lawyers, last time I checked.

I think we need more people who can think an issue through, sense nuance, and then chase the nuances down -- not only more lawyers and more journalists, but more people who can think.

I think we need fewer people who can't think, but can only react. I think we have some in and around the White House.

Reacting, you know, isn't thinking.