A trial lawyer's prayer.
After finishing up the book "My Life In Court" by renowned trial attorney Louis Nizer, I did some searching and came across the following prayer attributed to the author.
Having absorbed many lessons from his book, there is no question his ethos is evident in the following:
Please, O God, give me good health with which to withstand the rigors of a most arduous profession - the law.
Please grant me equanimity which calms everyone around me and enable me to balance like a gyroscope in the storms of contest.
Touch my words with eloquence, not in the sense of harangue, but in the true meaning of oratory -- a flashing eye under the philosopher's brow. Diminish my worries, particularly those anticipated worries which are like interest paid on a debt that never comes due.
Increase my capacity for work, so that I will not suffer the fatigue of thought and will plow deep while sluggards sleep.
Above all, O Lord, do not diminish my intensity for a client's cause, for from it spring the flames which leap over the jury box and set fire to the convictions of the jurors.
I would pray that my efforts do not blind me to the uniqueness of love, the comfort of friendship, and the joys of a cultivated mind.
We cannot control the length of our lives, but we can control the width and depth of our lives. And I know that when you finally touch us with your fingers to permanent sleep and examine us, you will look not for medals or honorary degrees, but for scars suffered to make the world a little better place to live in.
Attorney Nizer includes so many gems in My Life in Court, it should be required reading for anyone who aspires to be a trial attorney. I have tabbed many pages in my copy. One passage about a witness's credibility and presentation is worth sharing here. Nizer represented many Hollywood moguls, stars and studios, so he was quite familiar with professional actors.
"Whenever I represent an actor I go through a terrible struggle to eliminate his ambition to give a starring performance on the stand. Persuasion does not come from affectation or from charm or from wit. It is derived from sincerity. That is why illiterate witnesses of those from humble stations in life, who are awed by the courtroom, may nevertheless be the best witnesses."
Indeed, this is as true to today as it was when Nizer penned this almost sixty years ago. Nothing is more persuasive than true sincerity from the witness stand. Unfortunately, it is often attempted, but not nearly as often effectuated.