Brian Johnson and I love language. We adore it! We love a beautiful turn of phrase, a thoughtful insight well-described, the law illuminated by the spoken word, the out-loud reasoning of a quick mind. We love it when speaking becomes an art. It makes us excited, eager to go to work each day and coach the next interesting lawyer with a unique presenting style.
We are excited to release the new edition of The Articulate Attorney on June 1. We wrote this book because speaking about the law—having it on the tip of your tongue—is not as easy as it sounds. Speaking clearly indicates a lawyer is thinking clearly, and speaking poorly indicates she or he is not. We are fascinated by the nexus of speaking and thinking, and amazed to watch how physical presence predicts fluent speech. How can lack of movement in hands and arms squash efficient word choice? Why does sustained eye contact with listeners make conversation easier?
We learn new things from our clients every week, if not every day. We gain insights into how language works at any given moment in history, or how the music of speech changes with the times. The more we observe lawyers speaking, the more we see nuances of how physical gesture connects ideas. Like passionate teachers everywhere, each year we streamline our teaching to get closer to the essence of instruction. How can we say something better, and get results faster? What objectives should we have for this person as opposed to that one?
When Brian Johnson first began coaching lawyers over 30 years ago, speaking was a denigrated “soft skill,” and there was a general belief that only defective lawyers couldn’t get the job done. Now, after decades of linguistic and attentional studies, sports psychology, gesture, brain, and human factors research, there is a vastly more complete picture of how humans think and speak. We know that it often requires deliberate nurturing to reveal a lawyer’s “natural” speaking abilities.
Speaking well is a teachable skill, but there’s nothing “soft” about it. This second edition of The Articulate Attorney: Public Speaking for Lawyers is more fully illustrated and has extensive revisions. We wanted to include the very best of what we’ve learned since the first edition appeared.
We’ve set up a Goodreads Giveaway for the new edition. You can enter to win one of ten free copies of the book by following the link below. And if you haven’t been to Goodreads, prepare to love this online community of people who love to read.