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Trial Lawyers Get Lucky

Lucky_tie "Superstition ain't the way," Stevie Wonder warned long ago, but trial lawyers, apparently, didn't listen to Wonder's 1972 hit. Trial lawyers, it turns out, are as dependent on superstitious rituals as pro athletes, writer Mary Flood tells us this week in the Houston Chronicle, relying on good luck charms along with legal skills in hopes of success in the courtroom. Flood tells of criminal defense attorney Kent Schaffer, who puts his faith in a battered briefcase, gold cuff links and a lucky Montblanc pen, and white-collar defense lawyer Tom Hagemann, who first discovered the magic powers of his wooden file box with the U2 sticker while an assistant U.S. attorney two decades ago. Others cite lucky boots, lucky watches and karmic rituals, both before and after trial.

Stranger still, these talismans and rituals may actually help. Stuart Vyse, a Connecticut College psychology professor who wrote a book about superstition, tells Flood that such beliefs may have a placebo or focusing effect that reassures the lawyer. "The rituals can be mantra-like, calming and give a sense of control that can be psychologically beneficial," Vyse says. "It can give the illusion of control."

Other lawyers' good-luck charms range from mints to music, and in the latter category, from Eminem to Aaron Copland. But the most common trial talisman for lawyers, Flood says, is probably the lucky tie.

[Hat tip to ABA Journal.]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 21, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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