The New York Times reported last week about superstition among trial lawyers. The headline of the article tells it all: “In a Field of Reason and Skill, Lawyers Woo Luck with Ritual.”
The article recounts seasoned trial lawyers who insist on always eating lunch at the same place, and ordering the same thing, during jury trial, who wear the same tie during every opening statement, or cling irrationally to a particular pen. The author expresses surprise that we trial lawyers would let mindless rituals and superstition infiltrate on our otherwise heady trial preparation.
This comes as no surprise to me. The truth is that a trial is not so much a mental exercise as a gladiatorial competition. We are driven relentlessly to win, but we know that for all of our work and preparation, there will always be circumstances that are beyond our ability to change. So like professional athletes, we find comfort in familiar routines.