In Learning to Listen

The practice of law is rich with tradition. You stand when a judge enters the courtroom. Judges wear black robes and are called Your Honor. The list of traditions are endless.

The term “stare decisis” (Latin- to stand by things decided) is based on tradition. We look to past cases as a guide to how a judge should rule. Predictability is critical to the functioning and the legitimacy of the legal world. If the law does not mean what it says, then what is the use of having written laws?

But traditions can out serve their purpose. Instead of reminding us of what is important, we become prisoners of them.

Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, The Fourth of July are full of traditions. Christmas is chockfull of rituals. I remember when my children were young and my mom kept insisting on all the traditions she grew up with. But her traditions did not mean to me what they held for her. I found myself becoming frustrated and parts of the holiday becoming increasingly meaningless. Finally it reached a point where new traditions had to be introduced. I was nervous of how my mom was going to respond. I hesitated to approach her. When I finally did, she was a trooper. I could tell it was not easy for her, but she was willing to change.

Traditions and rituals are important reminders of what I value. But when they are no longer providing that spark then they are not serving their intended purpose. The trick is to recognize the traditions that are peppered throughout my work life that are not serving me. While I run my office a certain way because that’s the way I do it, I don’t want to be the last one to recognize that I’m evolving into a dinosaur.

It’s funny how I can struggle against change. I come up with all the reasons it won’t be better and why it’s too hard too even try. Then the change happens and I wonder what all my fuss was about.

How do I keep aware of my own outdated traditions? How do I keep myself changing and growing, rather than stuck in my own time warp?

At the office I keep myself open to other’s ideas and surrounded by people who want positive change. I remind myself that an initial perplexing idea can turn out great. I have to push through my own resistance. Nurturing an office policy that we are searching for ideas to help us work better and more efficient, keeps it in the forefront of our minds.

Being willing to try different ways to operate serves two purposes. First, I will find better ways to function. Second, everyone at the office knows their observations and suggestions are meaningful. The more everyone in my office is valued, the more they bring to work.

I want to make sure that the traditions in my life are serving me, rather than me serving them. The trick is recognizing the difference before changes are made out of necessity.

What are some of the internal blocks that tend to stop you from changing or recognizing the need for change?

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  • Robert Lehn

    My Daughter, whom I treasure, selected you to represent her in a personal injury case. Obviously you are a thinker with your client’s best interest at heart. How utterly refreshing in this day and age.

    • Jim Dwyer

      Thank you very much. You have a wonderful daughter.

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