Excited Utterance

 In Practicing Law and Life, Trust, Faith and The Law

The last time I recall hearing about “excited utterance” was in law school. It was in Evidence class and we were going over the list of exceptions to the hearsay rule. Like many things in life, once we learn the rule, it seems like we spend most of our time learning about the exceptions to the rule.

Quick review: Hearsay is an out of court statement being offered as evidence in court. The idea is that it’s best to have the person who made the out of court statement on the witness stand, that way the truthfulness of what they said can be examined. The excited utterance exception allows a witness to testify about what someone else said out of court. The idea behind this exception is that a statement made during an exciting event is likely to be more trustworthy.

If you know me really well, you know I have this habit of talking out loud to myself. As if I’m literally talking to someone. I use hand gestures, my voice rises and falls, it can look strange. Honesty, I’m lucky I have not been committed. My wife and kids sometimes have a hard time knowing if I’m talking to them or myself.

Recently, I’ve discovered my own excited utterances. The first one came when I heard a song on the radio and I felt this giant smile come across my face. It was as if the song was washing over me- you know what I mean. There are lots of songs that I like, but a few seem to deeply resonate. I said out loud, to myself,  in the car “I have to play that song on the guitar. I love it. I hope the chords aren’t too hard.”

Later that day I was talking to my wife about wanting to learn the song, I heard the excitement in my own voice (my vocabulary can be rough around the edges when I get excited), when I realized it was an excited utterance all about learning this song.

A week letter, I was at work and I had just spent 30 minutes talking to a client. She was running out of benefits to pay for medical treatment. We worked on a strategy to best insure she would have a good recovery with the money she had left. It was 3:30 when I hung up the phone and I realized, “I should have kept that call shorter”- shaking my head. I could have kept it shorter by  simply giving her my opinion and leaving it at that.  I had a pile of phone calls to return, emails to answer and my to do list was seemingly gathering dust.

I wouldn’t have done it any different. I know how I felt when the conversation was over. I could feel one of the true joys of the practice of law running through me. Letting my clients know that they are important to me by taking the time to help them solve medical care treatment related concerns. As a personal injury attorney, I can offer them insights and advice to issues they never thought they would face about getting better from an injury.

My days are filled with lots of things I have to do, whether it’s about running the office or dealing with adjusters and other attorneys. If I don’t do them, I’m not doing my job.

Figuring out what I do that rings at my core and finding ways to bring it into my daily work, is equally, if not more important. My excited utterances are one of the guideposts that lead me to my greatest enjoyment in my practice of law and daily life. It’s what runs beneath the surface of my being that no one really sees.

Like many things in life, if we are not tuned in to it, we don’t see what is right in front of us. Our excited utterance is one way to discover the often small things that ushers in greater experiences to our lives.

Over the next several weeks, listen for your own excited utterances- whether you talk out loud to yourself or not. Keep track of them on a sticky note or in your phone. My friend Yasmin keeps his in a jar as a daily reminder. It’s not just about the big things, like winning a hearing or case, what makes you money or what you are necessarily the smartest or fastest about. It’s not about anyone else or their experience. It’s about yours, and yours alone.

If you think this post might resonate with someone you know, please share it. It’s how we help each other live our best lives. And feel free to share your own exited utterances, whether personal or professional, in the comments below. My guess is you already know a number of them

Dreams written on color paper in glass jar, isolated on white



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Showing 5 comments
  • Jennifer

    Great blog, really enjoy how you put the human first!

  • Jim Dwyer

    Thank you Jennifer.

  • Jason


    Very original. Great idea.

  • Karin

    Thanks for the reminder to focus on the underlayment of our lives, and stoke the fires of our being.

    • Jim Dwyer

      “Stoke the fires of our being” that’s a great way of putting it.

      I find it so easy to forget this part of me because I’m so busy keeping up with all the demands of my job. I’m certain that is what most of us experience.

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