When lawyers start talking about The Art of War, I sometimes suggest that they should first read and grok — or at least understand — Lao Tse. My thinking is that without recognizing the philosophical pilings beneath The Art of War a lawyer can reach only a superficial understanding of Sun Tzu’s precepts. There are many paths to the Tao, and law school is not ordinarily one.
In my readings I’ve come upon numerous technologies — some of which I’ve discussed in this space — that may make better trial lawyers. There’s a common thread among these technologies (from acting to survival): they’re about tapping the resources of our brains.
The principle that suggests that we read Lao Tse to understand Sun Tzu also suggests reading cognitive science to understand Lao Tse (and Johnstone and Meisner and Strauss among many others I’ve touched upon here).
Understanding the way our brains work may be the key, also, to persuading jurors. Trial lawyers are always in search of a more direct connection to the minds of their jurors; it seems to me that we might find a more direct route by understanding how those minds work — by being familiar with our destination.
So that’s where I’m headed next. Before that, though, I’m cleansing my intellectual palate with some spy fiction: the works of Charles McCarry, who ranks with Deighton and LeCarré as a master of the genre.