08 September 2010

Ricky Nelson on the Tao of Law (Statement No. 1)

This is a series of short posts (they have to be short given how few words Lao Tzu needed to lay out the Tao) showing how the Tao te Ching can help improve your practice of law. I am working from the translation by Stephen Mitchell.

“When you are content to simply be yourself, and don’t compete or compare, everyone will respect you.” (No. 8)

And if you “are content to simply be yourself” you will be a much better lawyer. Because, if you are content, comfortable in your own skin, you will give advice based on the facts and the law – not tailoring your advice to get someone’s approval. Not telling the client what he wants to hear. Not doing whatever it takes to win even when you know damn well your case stinks and so does your client.

This same section of the Tao te Ching says:

“In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.”

Neither of those is possible if you are trying to please others.

As that great Taoist, Ricky Nelson, sang so long ago in "Garden Party":

“But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
 You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.”

Thanks for reading.

Richard Russeth

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