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What I Have Learned in 40 Years of Law Practice: 50 Lessons About Law, Life, Love and Lucre

1. You don’t look like what I thought you’d look like, either.

2. A description of the great and incisive wins which prove how very smart and able I am would extend our stay here together not more than probably another 10-15 seconds.

3. ”If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely is not for you.” Unknown

4. “As one ages, litigation replaces sex.” —Gore Vidal

5. Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never hope to live long enough to make them all yourself.

6. “You can get by on charm for about 15 minutes. After that, you’d better know something.”  Thomas H. Blaske

7. When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

8. If you show off, you are distracting the jury from the evidence in your case.

9. “Continue to learn.”  Thomas H. Blaske

10. A great lawyer is a good lawyer one witness at a time.

11. “If we had no faults of our own, we should not take such pleasure in noting those of others.”  La Rochefoucauld

12. You were smarter before you walked into the courtroom or the deposition room. Do what you planned.

13. Always note your order for a deposition transcript on the notice.

14. Chance favors the prepared mind.

15. “Attend meticulously to the details and the war will win itself.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

16. Use trial techniques before trial.

17. “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.”  an old Jewish saying

18. He who laughs last thinks slowest.

19. Cross examination is more interesting to everyone in the courtroom than direct examination.

20. “A harbor is a safe place for a ship, but that is not what ships are for.” Unknown

21. “It is easier to get things done with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.”  Al Capone

22. On cross-examination, do not chase the direct examination.

23. “Cow tipping works, except when it doesn’t.”  Thomas H. Blaske

24. “The shaft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagle’s own plumes. We often give our enemies the means of our own destruction.”  Aesop, The Eagle and the Arrow

25. A fact in contradiction of a conclusion will always defeat a conclusion because a fact is a solid image while a conclusion is an abstraction.

26. Tact in litigation sometimes consists of saying “nice doggy” while you are looking around for a really big stick.

27. Sometimes they really are nice doggies, and will prove it if only they are treated that way.

28. Any time you affirm the worth of others, you serve.

29. There is a very good reason God gave trial lawyers two ears and two eyes but only one mouth.  Thomas H. Blaske

30. Tom’s Rules of Relevance (Rules of Evidence):

  • If it’s interesting, it’s coming in.
  • Quick trumps hearsay.
  • A lawyer on a roll gets to stay on a roll.

31. More cases are lost than are won.

32. “If your enemy is weaker than you, surround him. If stronger, invade.”  Lao Tze, in The Art of War

33. “For every problem there is a short and simple solution, and it is wrong.” Samuel L.Clemens (Mark Twain)

34. “Some people are too stupid to have rights.”  Anthony M. Calderone, a trial lawyer

35. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yogi Berra

36. “You live life for many years by practicing law for a few, if you will only pay attention.”  Edmund R. Blaske

37. “You have to live by the rules, not just know them.”  Thomas H. Blaske

38. “A life is unimportant except as it impacts other lives.” – Jackie Robinson

39. “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay in kind somewhere else in life.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

40. Many acts of service cost nothing and take little time: encouragement, compliments, listening, gratitude and compassion.

41. “He who increases knowledge, increases sorrow.”  Ecclesiastes

42. “Manners are more important than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.”  Edmund Burke

43. “Beware the man whose stomach does not move when he laughs.”  Confucius

44. Don’t tell lawyer jokes. Don’t laugh at them, either.

45. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.” Anonymous

46. “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”  Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain)

47. “Good men need no monument; their deeds are their shrines.”  Mishne Sheklim; 52

48. “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”  Flora Whittemore

49. “Now Kitty, let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all.”  Alice, in Through the Looking Glass

50. “Blah blah blah.” – Thomas H. Blaske

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